It’s now seven years to the day that John Aloisi and Mark Schwarzer became national heroes and sent Australia to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Of course the Qantas Socceroos would fall to eventual champions Italy in the second round, thanks to a penalty awarded to Fabio Grosso and duly converted by thumb-sucking striker Francesco Totti, but it was one brilliant ride, and a magical night in Sydney, when we qualified, beating Uruguay on penalties.
There were many heroes for the Socceroos that night - Tony Vidmar played a huge game, Mark Bresciano slotted the goal that sent the game to extra time and John Aloisi enjoyed a career-defining moment, slotting the penalty to send us into the finals and vanquish a team who had been a thorn in the national side for years.
And it didn’t hurt that buck-toothed Uruguay star Alvaro Recoba had proclaimed it was his team’s “divine right” to go back to another World Cup finals, making the ‘Celeste’ public enemy number one, if they weren’t already, having ended our hopes of making the 2002 finals, in Montevideo.
While all that was going on there was one true hero and it was Mark Schwarzer, the goalkeeper wrote his own page in Australian sporting folklore that evening with two massive penalty saves in the shootout, first stopping Dario Rodriguez, who stuttered on approach to give Australia the advantage, which was negated after Mark Viduka also stuttered to the ball and hit a weak shot wide of the goal.
Schwarzer immensely strong and quick then sprung off his line to his left to stop Marcelo Zalayeta’s well-hit penalty and palm it away from the goal, helping Australia to the advantage before Aloisi netted the remaining spot kick with aggression to send the crowd into a wild celebration.
Leave your memories of that glorious night in Australian football history below