Socceroos’ spirit continues a grand tradition

The Asian Cup final on January 31, 2015 was an epic in the true sense of the word - it needed real character from the Aussies to get them over the line with that thrilling 2-1 triumph in extra time.

We weren’t the best football team on the night just as the Koreans weren’t when we lost to them in the final group match in Brisbane, but that is the beauty, the tragedy and the irony of the game.

Finals are as much about the intangibles as they are about football.

The unseen, unquantifiable and undefined spirit and Australia simply had more than our opponents. We wanted it just that bit more; we dug that little bit deeper.

Fortune favours the brave and the whole Postecoglou philosophy engenders the true “Aussie spirit”, a degree of risk taking and bravery, and this team plays without fear which does bring good fortune. They have a go!

The boys were right…it was surreal. As I sat in the studio at Fox Sports watching all the goings on after the final whistle I didn’t want to talk. I was just happy to soak up the images before me as I watched through glassy eyes…and dream.

It took me back to our beating of Uruguay at the same venue almost a decade ago, and I know I teared up’then when that final penalty hit the net.

As I write this my mind goes back even further and I can vaguely recall the feelings of elation and excitement when Jim Mackay sent the Socceroos to Germany back in 1973, when none of the current team were even a glint in their father’s eye.

That was the real birth of the Socceroos, the beginning of an eternal legacy that must always be revered.

I sat in a coffee shop the morning after we convincingly defeated China in the quarter-final with a good mate and he told me he had a feeling we were going to win the Asian Cup.

That was before the UAE beat Japan and I hadn’t thought that far ahead but I somehow knew he was right. There was a good smell about it all, about everything to do with the Asian Cup on and off the field.

Little things were going right and you could feel the momentum building with each day, building towards the perfect outcome as if following an unwritten script to an inevitable conclusion.

I played in the first game of the NSL in 1977 and it was a new beginning for the game. I coached in the first game of the Hyundai A-League in 2005 and I was there when Australia came from behind to beat Japan in our first World Cup Finals game for 32 years.

On each occasion the feeling has been the same and you just knew it was a sign of great things to come. Saturday night I felt it again.

In the post game TV interviews at Stadium Australia Trent Sainsbury (or maybe it was Tommy Juric?) described the feeling as surreal. And so it should have been from either of these two young Socceroos. Both had a big impact on the outcome of the game.

Sainsbury with his strong defending, in the air, on the ground and with his quality on the ball, the pass into Massimo Luongo was a special – exquisitely timed with perfect weight and direction.

Juric as well, a player that has so much promise caused a lot of problems for the Koreans with his ability to be the target that was needed at that stage when he came on.

It was his ingenuity that brought about the winning goal and ingenious it was - so much so it took the South Korean defence by complete surprise and left them flat-footed as James Troisi slotted into the roof of the net.

Winning here, on our soil in front of our crowd cannot be quantified in simple terms. It goes much deeper than that.

Winning the Asian Cup the way they did exposed a whole new group of Australians, young and old alike, to that unique Socceroo spirit and that is something that will live in their hearts forever.