‘My jaw dropped’: The phone call that led to Tilio's historic strike

With his second touch as an Olyroo, seconds after coming off the bench, Marco Tilio became the youngest men’s goalscorer for Australia at the Olympic Games.

But his unforgettable heroics were almost never given the chance to unfold in the first place. 

The 19-year-old sent Olyroos fans into ecstasy by scoring the goal that sealed Australia’s stunning 2-0 victory over Argentina at Tokyo 2020.

The Melbourne City forward, who starred during their A-League grand final victory, released Mitchell Duke down the left before receiving the ball back on the edge of the box and fizzing a shot past a helpless Jeremias Ledesma in the Argentine goal.

The result, coupled with Spain’s goalless draw with Egypt earlier on Thursday, means Graham Arnold’s men top the standings after matchday one.

Tilio’s goal caps off a whirlwind month for the teenager, who had not been involved in any of the qualification rounds for the Olyroos and was not set for an Olympics appearance until squad sizes were expanded.

Be Their Champion

Three weeks ago, he was on holiday visiting family in Sydney when he received a call that would change his career.

“I had gone back home to Sydney to see the family and I received a call from an unknown number, it was Graham Arnold,” Tilio said.

“Luckily I called back, and he said, ‘you’re going to be an Olympian’. I was in so much shock, my jaw dropped.

“My mum was sitting across the room from me, and she asked me who was on the phone. When I told her and my family, everyone was super ecstatic for me.

“I think after a rough start to the year and then a strong end of the season at City, getting the call-up to the Olympics is just a little bit of a reward.”

While his selection would have seemed unfathomable a year ago, Tilio had his most impressive A-League season after a move to City kick-started his career. 

The former Sydney FC Youth player finished his first season with his new club with 22 appearances, 10 starts, two goals and five assists as he helped City to their first A-League Championship and Premiership.

On Thursday night, the youngster added another milestone to his impressive season by scoring on one of the most famous nights in Australian football history.

Tilio is the youngest Australian male to score at the Olympics and he did it with just his second touch of the game.

Now, he and the Olyroos turn their attention to Spain, who they play on Sunday. And Australia has their eyes on clinching a passage through to the knockout stages after Egypt claimed a shock goalless draw with Spain in their opening match.

“I think we can go on to do great things at this tournament. I’m just very happy and excited,” Tilio said.

“We always have a strong belief and family culture within the team, the sky's the limit with us and all the boys believe. Everyone comes here with the same goal, to win the gold medal.”

The Olyroos sit atop of Group C as they prepare to take on Spain on Sunday at 8:30pm AEST at the Sapporo Dome.