On this day in 2008, Harry Kewell strapped on the captain’s armband and led nine fresh-faced Aussies to the next step in their football careers as they represented their nation at senior level for the first time.
On paper it was a simple, warm-up friendly at the National Stadium in Singapore. A final chance for then Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek to apply the finishing touches ahead of a FIFA World Cup Qualifier in China four days later.
But for a host of players the final nil-all score line after 90 minutes would only be the beginning of the story as they began what would prove to be long and decorated careers in the green and gold.
Amongst those making their debut in the starting line-up was Mile Jedinak – an impressive young talent that had already lifted silverware in the Hyundai A-League with Central Coast Mariners.
He would of course go on to captain Australia in 36 of his total 79 caps, including leading the team to the title at the AFC Asian Cup 2015, and become a club hero in Turkey’s Super Liga and the English Championship and Premier League.
Jedinak played in three FIFA World Cups and retired from international football in October 2018.
Also making his Socceroos debut in the starting line-up that day was Mark Bridge, who a month earlier had delivered the winning strike for Newcastle Jets in their Hyundai A-League Grand Final over the Mariners.
He would make one additional appearance for the Socceroos, but would become a Hyundai A-League legend amassing over 250 games as he notched further domestic titles with Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers and won the AFC Champions League with the Wanderers in 2014.
A future teammate of Bridge’s as the Wanderers conquered Asia was Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who also started against Singapore after impressing through the summer with Perth Glory.
The defender went on to represent Australia at the Beijing Olympic Games later that year and continues to endear himself to supporters around the Hyundai A-League through stints at five clubs.
Also amongst the starters was a young mdifielder from English Premier League club Newcastle United’s youth system named James Troisi.
He would go on to score the winning goal in the AFC Asian Cup Final in 2015 against Korea Republic and a decorated club career that brought him a Hyundai A-League Championship with Melbourne Victory.
Alongside in midfield was fellow debutant James Holland, another member of the Championship-winning Jets side from the month prior.
Holland, who currently plays in Austria’s top flight with Linzer ASK, would go on to captain Australia to victory at the AFF U19 Championship later in 2008 and was part of Australia’s FIFA World Cup 2014 squad in Brazil.
Finally amongst the starting debutants that day was Adam Griffiths in defence, who partnered up with his Jets club captain Jade North in the backline.
The match would prove to be just one of two for Griffiths for the senior national team but he would go on to a successful club career in the Hyundai A-League and overseas in China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
On the bench there were others that would become household names of their own.
After impressing with Adelaide United and winning the Young Footballer of the Year award, Bruce Djite had just signed with Gençlerbirliği in the Turkish Super Lig and entered the fray in the second half in Singapore.
Another former Young Footballer of the Year award winner was Adrian Leijer, who was called up to the national team after making the switch the previous season from Melbourne Victory, where he won Premiership and Championship titles, to Fulham in the English Premier League.
And of course, there was another Victory man that took to the field that day – and it wasn’t just long-time Socceroo Archie Thompson.
Leigh Broxham made his sole Socceroos appearance as a substitute and while further national team honours eluded him, he continues as one of the most decorated players in the history of the Hyundai A-League – amassing four Championships, three Premierships and a FFA Cup winners medal on his resume.