'Weird feeling': From commentating Canada to Facebook fan engagement 27 years later

27 years after commentating Australia’s triumph over Canada alongside the great Johnny Warren, Andy Paschalidis admits that it was a ‘weird feeling’ to sit back and re-watch the entire game for the first time.

Paschalidis provided some retrospective commentary of his own in the comments section of the Socceroos Facebook page on Tuesday night, as football fans relived Australia’s dramatic penalty shootout victory back in August 1993.

During the opening stages of the contest he commented: “First time I’ve watched this game back. Gee I miss sitting next to Johnny 🤗”

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Andy Paschilidis Canada Socceroos

Working for SBS at the time, Paschalidis experienced first-hand the explosion of support throughout Australia as dreams of a USA 1994 berth grew.

The Socceroos’ clash with Canada at the Sydney Football Stadium remains one of his all-time favourite matches.

“It would have to be (one of my favourites), purely because of the theatre of that night and what it meant,” Paschalidis reflected.

“As a lot of people probably don't realise what Mark Schwarzer did in that game and how it all came about.

“It was one of those performances where the Socceroos just clicked and it was unfortunate that it went to extra time. We should’ve wrapped it up in 90 minutes with so many chances.”

Paschalidis noted how Schwarzer’s heroics combined with the subsequent visit of a famous Argentina outfit to help put Australian football on the map.

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While the Socceroos were to fall painfully short at the final hurdle, he was taken aback by the immense interest that Maradona and co. attracted down under.

“The Maradona gravy train was just incredible,” Paschalidis said. “The press conference and attention from all of the media - you’d never seen anything like it.

“I think our game seems to attract attention beyond the mainstream football media when we get to these classic endings involving the national team.

“Particularly where it involves extra time or the heroics of a penalty shootout it makes such a difference in terms of the impact the game has on the broader sporting public.

“The further we go in a World Cup qualifying campaign the more traction we get in the media and that's important for the game itself.”

Paschalidis, who these days calls the India Super League for Star TV, looks back on his commentary of the night with only one minor regret.

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“The one thing I feel bad about is that I never normally criticise referees,” he said, “but in that game I tend to criticise him, maybe a little too much.

“I think one of my lines were ‘the referee is consistent with his inconsistencies!’”  

On the other hand, eagle-eyed audiences picked up a bizarre similarity that paralleled Paschalidis to one of the most iconic commentaries of recent times.

The Australian’s 1993 “corner taken quickly” call in the lead up to Frank Farina’s acrobatic opener was unknowingly mimicked by Liverpool FC’s Steve Hunter, in his famous description of Divock Origi’s unexpected winner against Barcelona in the 2019 UEFA Champions League semi-final.

“I saw that and had a bit of a wry smile,” Paschalidis said. “I thought my commentary was okay that night but there were a couple of things that if I could have changed I would!

“How would you know that years after that something similar would pop up? I’m just proud to have it linked to something like that to be honest.”

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