World football Domination

World Football Domination Blog

Anthony Ranieri crop image
Anthony Ranieri

The sequel of World Football Domination – The Player Intelligence Mission (Book 2), will be published next month – December 2019.

I have been fortunate enough to read a remarkable foreword by Jamie Warren. An inside scoop on Australian soccer history that could only be told by an insider and someone who was there – at the forefront of player development. Its a fascinating read and I am sure you will enjoy it….

Foreword by Jamie Warren
Executive Chairman
Johnny Warren Football Foundation

It gives me great pleasure to be writing the forward for World Football Domination – The Virtual Talent Scout, book two, and I sincerely thank author Anthony Ranieri for this wonderful opportunity.

I continue to be intrigued by the story of young indigenous player Harry Duwula and his journey to football stardom. My uncle and godfather, the late Johnny Warren was a big believer in introducing indigenous Australian children to football and nurturing and developing their talent.

Harry Williams, the first indigenous Australian to play in the FIFA World Cup (West Germany 1974) made the following observation about Johnny Warren and indigenous kids in 2007 – prior to the inaugural Harry Williams Cup where eighty indigenous boys and girls participated in a four day talent identification tournament at Soccer NSW headquarters:

 “I have seen so many aboriginal kids with such tremendous talent, more talent than I ever had. Johnny Warren always used to say to me that aboriginal talent remains an untapped resource and we should do something with it”.

In 2002 the FIFA World Cup was co-hosted by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) power-houses Korea and Japan – nations the Australian national team has a long history with. Most notably, Australia was captained by a 24 year old Johnny Warren that defeated South Korea 3-2 at the Cong Hoa Stadium in Saigon to win the Friendly Nations’ Cup at the height of the Vietnam War. The Australian Government was asked to send the Australian soccer team by the United States Government to play in this tournament as a way to help with the war effort – by winning over the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese people through football – the most popular sport in Vietnam. The winning goal against South Korea was scored by none other than Atti Abonyi and this was Australia’s first ever international tournament victory. The trophy is now housed at the National Museum of Australia and was recently on display in the museum’s ‘Journeys’ exhibition, where the story of Australia’s participation in the Friendly Nations’ Cup in 1967, 1970 and 1972 was told.

The other notable and history making victory against South Korea was in 1973 in Hong Kong where the late Jimmy Mackay scored the winning goal to send Australia to its first World Cup appearance in West Germany – when only sixteen teams participated in the tournament. Johnny Warren referred to this Australian team as “butchers, bakers and candlestick makers” – because the entire Australian team had jobs in addition to playing for their country. In West Germany they played against a very strong and physical East German side – losing 2-0. They then played eventual 1974 World Cup champions and host nation West Germany, led by their world class captain Franz Beckenbauer, losing 3-0. The final group match was against Chile, in atrocious condition, drawing 0-0. An interesting point to make is that eight of the victorious 1967 Friendly Nations’ Cup squad played in the 1974 World Cup.

Australian football had suffered greatly since 1974 not qualifying for the ‘Big Dance’ since – and Korea/Japan 2002 was no different. Australia were members of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and sadly missed out on qualifying once again.

Australia easily won the Oceania qualifiers which meant they had to play the fifth best South American nation to qualify for Korea/Japan 2002. The fifth best South American side was Uruguay with world class players such as Alvaro Recoba (Inter Milan, Italy), Paulo Montero (Juventus, Italy), Dario Silva (Malaga, Spain) and Richard Morales (Club Nacional de Football, Uruguay then Osasuna of Spain). The Socceroos had their own international superstars including Captain Paul Okon (Middlesbrough, England), Harry Kewell (Leeds United, England), Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough, England) and Mark Viduka (Leeds United, England). Australia won 1-0 at home after Kevin Muscat scored a penalty at the MCG, while Uruguay were too good at home and defeated the Sooceroos 3-0 – at the packed and intimidating Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. 

Even though Australia did not qualify for Korea/Japan 2002, the television ratings soared in Australia. Channel Nine, was owned by the late Kerry Packer and held the World Cup rights in Australia and Andy Harper headed up their coverage. At the time SBS, Australia’s ‘Home of Football’ produced a daily highlights show.

The ratings successes were not lost on Kerry Packer and his management team. It appeared Australia was ‘soccer mad’ and we were not even playing in the tournament. There was a funny cartoon of Kerry Packer in ‘The Australian’ newspaper at the time – Kerry Packer and one of his ‘bean counters’ at Channel Nine. Kerry Packer says to the bean counter, “I thought soccer was a game for sheilas, wogs and poofters”, to which the ‘bean counter’ replies, “it is Mr Packer, but they make up 98% of the population!”

The world cup ratings success also peeked the interest of the politicians and it was during this time the New South Wales Premier Bob Carr publicly announced that NSW will be bidding for the 2014 World Cup. It was also at this time that he telephoned Johnny Warren wanting to know why Australia were not at the World Cup and what needed to be done to ensure we were there in the future.

To be continued….

When I’m up in the big football field in the sky, I just want people to remember, I told you so.

Johnny Warren,
Australian football legend

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World Football Domination -Volume 1
Available in eBook or paperback format