Socceroos legend Brett Emerton today called time on his illustrious footballing career.
Emerton won 95 caps for the Socceroos, scoring 20 goals in an international career that ran from 1998 to 2012, earning the humble star a place in the upper echelon of Australia’s greatest football players.
“It was an absolute honour to represent my country and to be able to do it for 15 years and play in two World Cups is really special,” Emerton said. “Playing for the Socceroos is an honour and a privilege and I enjoyed every single match I played for the National team.
“The memories I have from wearing the green and gold are something I will cherish forever.
“I have been fortunate enough to share in some very special moments with the Socceroos but it is hard to go past the win over Uruguay to qualify for the World Cup in 2005. It was a memorable night for me as a football player but the joy it brought to all Australians and the football community was amazing.
“I’ve had a fantastic career and I was incredibly fortunate to play professional football for 18 years but I know now is the right time to call it a day and I hope to be able to stay in the game moving forward and continue to contribute to Australian football.”
Emerton’s stature in the game was acknowledged by Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO David Gallop, who started his career should serve as an inspiration to young football players with dreams of becoming a professional football player.
“Brett is the quintessential Australian football success story, from the suburban fields of Western Sydney to the FIFA World Cup,” Gallop said.
“At every stage, from youth national teams to the Olympic Games, the English Premier League and back to the Hyundai A-League, Brett lived the dream with integrity and supreme dedication.
“His playing career will serve an inspirational story for every boy and girl with ambitions to play football at the highest level.
“On behalf of Football Federation Australia and the football community I’d like to congratulate Brett on a memorable career and thank him for his enormous contribution to the game in this country.”
From his grassroots beginnings as a Campbelltown Gunners junior, Emerton rose to prominence at the AIS before signing for Sydney Olympic in 1996, quickly becoming a fan favourite with his dribbling skills and energetic running on the right hand side.
Emerton made 94 appearances in the blue and white of Olympic, scoring 16 goals. It was only a matter of time before clubs in Europe came knocking, but before he ventured overseas there was the small matter of an Olympic Games, in his home town in 2000. Emerton captained the Olyroos in that tournament, before moving to Feyenoord.
In his second season in Holland, Emerton gained a UEFA Cup winners medal and a stellar season was capped off when he was named 2002 Oceania Footballer of the Year.
After three seasons at Feyenoord, Emerton moved to the Premier League and Blackburn Rovers in July 2003, scoring on his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Emerton would go on to make almost 250 appearances for the Lancashire club and it was during this period that the Socceroos came back to the fore in Australian sport. Emerton was a vital cog in Guus Hiddink’s plans and his versatility allowed the Dutchman to make various tactical adjustments.
Emerton starred at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, although his late sending off against Croatia meant that he was suspended for the heart breaking loss to Italy in the knock-out stages.
He also represented the Socceroos with distinction at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
Emerton’s Socceroos career finished on a high note, as he was captain of the inexperienced side that played in the 2012 East Asian Cup qualifiers, where he was named player of the tournament. Emerton returned home in 2011 and was vice-captain of Sydney FC, for whom he scored seven goals.
Emerton retires as the third most capped Socceroo of all time, behind Mark Schwarzer and Lucas Neill.
Born: 22-Feb-79, Sydney
Socceroo honours: 100 appearances (21 goals) [1998-2012]
95 A internationals (20 goals) / 5 non–A internationals (1 goal)
All games (and goals):
1998: CHILE, KOREA REPUBLIC, JAPAN, CROATIA, UNITED STATES
1999: World Stars (1 gl), Manchester United, Manchester United, Brazil B, Brazil B
2000: PARAGUAY, PARAGUAY, PARAGUAY, COOK ISLANDS, SOLOMON ISLANDS, VANUATU, NEW ZEALAND, KUWAIT, KOREA REPUBLIC, SCOTLAND (1 gl)
2001: FRANCE, KOREA REPUBLIC, NEW ZEALAND (2 gls), NEW ZEALAND (1 gl), FRANCE, URUGUAY, URUGUAY
2003: ENGLAND (1 gl), IRELAND
2004: SOUTH AFRICA, TURKEY, TURKEY, NEW ZEALAND, FIJI, VANUATU (1 gl), SOLOMON ISLANDS (1 gl), SOLOMON ISLANDS (1 gl), SOLOMON ISLANDS (1 gl), NORWAY
2005: SOUTH AFRICA, IRAQ, INDONESIA, NEW ZEALAND, GERMANY, ARGENTINA, SOLOMON ISLANDS (1 gl), SOLOMON ISLANDS (1 gl), JAMAICA, URUGUAY, URUGUAY
2006: GREECE, NETHERLANDS, LIECHTENSTEIN, JAPAN, BRAZIL, CROATIA, PARAGUAY, BAHRAIN, GHANA
2007: DENMARK (1 gl), URUGUAY, SINGAPORE, OMAN, IRAQ, THAILAND, JAPAN, NIGERIA
2008: QATAR, IRAQ, IRAQ, QATAR (2 gls), NETHERLANDS, UZBEKISTAN, QATAR (2 gls)
2009: NETHERLANDS, OMAN, OMAN (1 gl)
2010: GERMANY, GHANA, SERBIA, SWITZERLAND, POLAND, EGYPT
2011: INDIA, KOREA REPUBLIC, BAHRAIN, UZBEKISTAN (1 gl), JAPAN, GERMANY, NEW ZEALAND, SERBIA, WALES, THAILAND, SAUDI ARABIA, OMAN, THAILAND
2012: SAUDI ARABIA (1 gl), HONG KONG (1 gl), KOREA DPR, CHINESE TAIPEI
Other Australian representative honours:
U/17: 1995 U-17 World Cup (Ecuador)
U/20: 1997 U-20 World Cup (Malaysia), 1999 U-20 World Cup (Nigeria)
U/23: 2000 Olympic Games (Sydney)
Junior club: Campbelltown Gunners
1996 Australian Institute of Sport
96/97 Sydney Olympic (Australia) 18 appearances (2 goals)
97/98 Sydney Olympic (Australia) 24a (3g)
98/99 Sydney Olympic (Australia) 21a (2g)
99/00 Sydney Olympic (Australia) 31a (9g)
00/01 Feyenoord (Netherlands) 28a (2g)
01/02 Feyenoord (Netherlands) 31a (6g)
02/03 Feyenoord (Netherlands) 33a (3g)
03/04 Blackburn Rovers (England) 37a (2g)
04/05 Blackburn Rovers (England) 37a (4g)
05/06 Blackburn Rovers (England) 30a (1g)
06/07 Blackburn Rovers (England) 34a (0g)
07/08 Blackburn Rovers (England) 33a (1g)
08/09 Blackburn Rovers (England) 20a (1g)
09/10 Blackburn Rovers (England) 24a (0g)
10/11 Blackburn Rovers (England) 30a (4g)
11/12 Blackburn Rovers (England) 2a (0g)
11/12 Sydney FC (Australia) 26a (4g)
12/13 Sydney FC (Australia) 22a (3g)
13/14 Sydney FC (Australia) 9a (0g)