They claim you should never meet your heroes for fear of being disappointed, but that certainly wasn't the case on Saturday, when delighted Socceroos supporters young and old got up close and personal with their favourite players.
And the faithful at Jubilee Oval were rewarded for their dedication with several surprise special guests and an unexpected treat on the training field itself.
The second fan day of Australia's pre-World Cup training camp was a hit from the word go, green and gold diehards lining from 9.30am as they waited for the gates to open in Kogorah.
Free merchandise packs were eagerly snapped up, while the MC, Fox Sports' Richard Bayliss, whetted the crowd's appetite with trivia questions, as one lucky fan took home the brand new Socceroos shirt, adorned of course with the squad's signatures at the end of the session.
John Aloisi, the hero of Australia's penalty shootout victory over Uruguay to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, was in attendance as a guest of Ange Postecoglou and proved a popular target for autograph hunters and smart phone photographers.
Those with longer memories paid their respects to Rale Rasic, the first man to coach the Socceroos at a World Cup in 1974 and an interested spectator in the VIP area.
Craig Moore, an official consultant to Postecoglou brought on board to mentor a young side, was also busy shaking hands and chatting to the public.
The players took to the field shortly after 11am, embarking on stretches, passing drills involving one and two touches and games of rondo, the 'piggy in the middle' exercise made famous by Barcelona.
The majority of the 30-man squad all took part, with Mitch Langerak (knee) and Curtis Good (hip) the only players not involved.
Mile Jedinak was restricted to lighter duties of running with the ball as he recovers from a groin injury, while Dario Vidosic, one of the later arrivals into camp following the end of the Swiss Premier League season, also had a reduced load.
As the session drew to a conclusion media and supporters alike had the privilege of witnessing the first 11 v 11 training game of the camp, giving an indication of Postecoglou's potential starting line up for the World Cup opener against Chile on June 13.
Arranged in a 4-3-3 formation, the 'firsts' consisted of Mat Ryan in goal, Jason Davidson and Ivan Franjic at left and right back respectively and Ryan McGowan partnering Matthew Spiranovic in the centre of defence.
Mark Bresciano was deployed as the deepest player in a midfield three, with James Holland and Mark Milligan ahead of him. Mathew Leckie and Tommy Oar operated to the right and left of centre-forward Tim Cahill.
The 'seconds' played a 4-2-3-1, with Eugene Galekovic in goal, Luke Wilkshire at right-back, Alex Wilkinson and Bailey Wright in the centre and Oliver Bozanic, nominally a midfielder, the odd one out at left-back.
Massimo Luongo and Matt Mckay sat deep in central midfield, as James Troisi played at number 10 behind Josh Kennedy, with Adam Taggart on the left and Ben Halloran on the right. Part-way through the match, Taggart was replaced by Tom Rogic, who took over as playmaker, with Troisi pushing into a wide left role.
Some fans may not have realised the significance of the practice match, but it certainly wasn't lost on the journalists in attendance, who were hoping Vicente del Bosque and Louis van Gaal didn't have their scouts in the stands.
Had any members of the enemy camp snuck in, they certainly would have left before Tim Cahill, who was still busy signing autographs and having his picture taken almost an hour after the training session officially finished.
Send Off the Socceroos
Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB
Monday 26 May 2014 ANZ Stadium, Sydney Kick-off: 7.30pm
Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!
ABC Grandstand will have live coverage of the match from 1900-2135 AEST on ABC Grandstand Digital across Australia, online and via the phone app.
You can also tune in on digital SBS Radio 3 and SBS Radio 4, Digital TV, online at sbs.com.au/radio or via the SBS Your Language App.
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