100 Years of Camaraderie and Courage: Rasic and Milligan reflect on Socceroos' history

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As we prepare to celebrate the Centenary of the Socceroos, Rale Rasic and Mark Milligan sat down to take the first look at Socceroos: 100 Years of Camaraderie and Courage” book. Watch the full feature in the video above.

On June 17, 2022, Football Australia will celebrate the Centenary of the Australian men’s national team, known today as the Socceroos. 

This date will mark the 100th anniversary of the Socceroos’ first ever match back on June 17, 1922, when a team coached by Alf Morgan and captained by Alex Gibb took on New Zealand in Dunedin. 

To commemorate this significant milestone, Football Australia has organised a program of activities, events, and initiatives, including the possibility of hosting a celebratory match featuring the Socceroos and New Zealand’s All Whites later in the year. 

The first Australian National Men's Football Team, Dunedin NZ June 1922
The first Australian National Men's Football Team, Dunedin NZ June 1922

The first item to be unveiled as part of the program of activities is a 224-page hardback book that pays tribute to those who have worn the Green and Gold with distinction.

Rasic and Milligan caught up over a coffee in Leichhardt to discuss some of the great stories from the “Socceroos: 100 Years of Camaraderie and Courage” book. 

“Irrespective of what we do, this is the first time that I know we are looking at our true history,” Rasic said as he opened the book to find a photo of the first Australian National Men's Football Team in 1922.  

And true history belongs to these people, too. These people deserve to be mentioned and to be part of it. As long as we live, these people will never die.”

Featuring a foreword by revered former Socceroos captain Paul Wade and stories from key contributors including Graham Arnold, John Aloisi, and Rasic himself, this tribute is a must for all fans of Australian football.

Of course, the book features the story of Rasic’s legendary charge to Australia’s first ever FIFA World Cup.

Rasic was appointed Socceroos coach in August 1970, starting a run of success that included a 12-match unbeaten streak in the 1972 world tour, an undefeated tour of Asia and a 2-2 draw with Pele’s Santos.

Rasic took the team through the 1974 rounds to line up matches against West and East Germany and Chile, culminating in Australia’s first appearance in the World Cup Finals in 1974. 

Because of this achievement, the 86-year-old has a unique position in Australian football.

He is a true icon of our game and someone who put Australia on the world map. 

“The stories of these people, they were unique characters and unique human beings,” Rasic said as he looked at a photo of his 1974 World Cup squad.

They were prepared to sacrifice everything that humans would sacrifice. I have never, ever met a better bunch of human beings than them.”

Milligan added: “Yes, people know about the tour but I don’t think people truly know the sacrifices that they made in terms of being able to be a part of this team. That would have cost a lot to them.” 

While the book features stories from the 1922 pioneers across the Tasman Sea and Rasic’s 1974 World Cup trailblazers, it also features tales of the Golden Generation and the 2015 Asian Cup victory. 

Australia Socceroos Asian Cup 2015 trophy Jedinak
The Socceroos celebrate Asian Cup success on home soil in 2015.

Milligan, who started for the Socceroos the night Australia became Champions of Asia, reflected on what it was like to lift the nation’s first trophy. 

“It was very, very emotional probably because during the whole tournament, Ange really drove home the history of the Socceroos,” Milligan said, 

He drove home what previous generations had given for us to be in the position we are now.

“A heavy focus for the whole tournament was the individual sacrifices that we made to play this game in this country.

“We all had our very own story of what we had to deal with to do what we loved.” 

Socceroos: 100 Years of Camaraderie and Courage” is available now from booktopia.com.au and in stores.

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