The 24-time Socceroos skipper passed away after a long battle with cancer in November 2004, leaving behind a remarkable legacy as a player, coach, administrator, writer and broadcaster.
It was in 1967, at the age of 24, that Warren captained Australia to their first ever trophy on the international stage in war-torn Vietnam.
Seven years later, he was a vital part of the squad who secured the nation’s maiden FIFA World Cup Finals appearance in West Germany.
Yet as Warren hung up the boots soon after, his role as a fierce advocate of the game was only in its infancy.
In the years that followed, his work at ABC and SBS developed the iconic ‘Captain Socceroo’ image and exposed the world game to a fresh generation of Australian football enthusiasts.
All the while he toiled tirelessly behind the scenes, striving for the betterment of the game.
In a 12-year career with St George Budapest, Warren and his club were NSW state league champions on three occasions. He also won a premiership and two state cups.
In his last ever appearance for the club, Warren scored the match-winning grand final goal in the 1974 Grand Final against Sydney City Hakoah. Fittingly, while player-manager for the team, Warren subbed himself off.
Having made his international debut in November of 1965 against Cambodia, Warren went on to make 42 appearances and scored six goals.
In 1967, he captained the Socceroos for the first time against New Zealand and captained the side a total of 24 times.
Warren was also part of the first ever Socceroos squad to go to a FIFA World Cup in 1974 in West Germany. In their opening match against East Germany, Warren & the Socceroos would earn themselves respect globally with a strong showing.
Unfortunately, a foot injury that he couldn’t recover from meant that Warren missed the remaining group games against West Germany and Chile.
Warren spent a few years coaching and his last year at St George was as player-manager. After helping to found Canberra City, Warren was head coach of the side for two years from 1977-1978. He also ran his own training camps in Canberra and Sydney for over a decade.
While coaching with Canberra, Warren spent his time promoting the game anyway he could, whether it be radio, newspaper, or TV. He worked as a commentator, analyst, and pundit for many years with the ABC and SBS.
His infectious passion for the game made him the face of the sport and the unofficial spokesperson for football and its long fight for mainstream acceptance. Warren’s commitment to the game at every stage of his career, has left a long-lasting legacy for football in Australia.
Martin Tyler reflects on Les Murray and Johnny Warren