While Australia Day has become a subject of much divisiveness in recent times, at the Pinch Hitters we believe there isn’t much more Australian than a long weekend and celebrating great Aussie moments. On this Australia Day, almost two decades into the 21st Century, we look at the best this century has had to offer.
Aloisi sends us to Germany
It’s hard to imagine how the sporting landscape in Australia would look like if a certain John Aloisi didn’t rifle a penalty into the top corner, in November of 2005. After 32 years of failure in international football, a two legged playoff against Uruguay would stand in between a Socceroos side that is now home to many players of the ‘Golden Era’, and yet another failed attempt at qualification.
So close, so many times before. After a narrow loss in Montevideo, it really was in our hands as the Uruguayan’s travelled to the Sydney Football Stadium. It could only be decided in penalties, and the heroics of Mark Schwarzer meant John Aloisi had the simpler job of putting away a penalty.
A Nation Holds it’s Breath
While the whole country held its breath as Aloisi stepped up to book a place in the World Cup for the Socceroos. He made no mistake, with the sight of himself and Schwarzer ripping their shirts off in celebration a moment that will never be forgotten by any football lover.
Since then, we have won an Asian Cup, we are in the last eight of the current Asian Cup, but more importantly, we have never missed out on World Cup qualification. We haven’t necessarily had any glory moments to speak about, but we are relevant.
There are scores of Aussies playing in the best leagues overseas, and we are miles ahead of where we were before this moment. There is a national league that can attract players, which while doesn’t necessarily correlate to this moment, certainly makes the league a hell of a lot more credible. The Chinese league, while all the money in the world, isn’t a league that players will go to for the football; it is for the money.
After one of the great Aussie moments, we have created a league that is competitive, a good standard, and is constantly moving forward. While this moment was just a mere penalty, it has shaped the way football in Australia moved forward in the last decade.
For myself, I started playing the beautiful game in 2006; after this moment. I’ve loved every second of both my junior and senior career, and I would not change a thing. If this didn’t happen, myself, and many others may be playing other sports. Who would have thought Football would overtake AFL as the most played sport in Australia – and by some margin as well. John Aloisi, you may have not been one of the worlds best players, or one of the better coaches, but you will never be forgotten.
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