Football Australia and the Socceroos family are saddened to hear of the passing of cap #198, 1974 FIFA World Cup representative and Football Australia Hall of Fame member, Manfred Schaefer.
The defender represented Australia 73 times between 1967 and 1974, 49 of those 'A' Internationals.
He was a member of our nation’s pioneering first FIFA World Cup squad in 1974, starting all three of Australia’s group games at the tournament in West Germany.
Schaefer migrated to Australia from East Germany at the age of 10 and took up football at high school.
At the club level, he joined Blacktown before transferring to St George in 1959, where he would go on to play over 450 games, winning the NSW State League in 1972.
Schaefer made his debut for Australia under Joe Vlatsis in 1967, introduced as a half-time substitute during a 5-3 win over New Zealand at the Quốc Khánh Cup in war-torn Vietnam.
He went on to start all of the remaining matches at the tournament as Australia defeated the likes of Malaysia, hosts South Vietnam and Asian powerhouses South Korea to defy the odds and win the country's first international trophy.
Many credit the 1967 tournament as the 'birth of the Socceroos spirit', handing debuts to the core of the squad that went on to qualify for Australia's first FIFA World Cup in 1974.
This proved to be the case for Schaefer, who established himself as a mainstay in the Australian backline during the nation’s 1970 and 1974 FIFA World Cup qualification campaigns.
During that time he, alongside Ray Richards, also famously marked Pele during Australia’s 2-2 draw with Santos at the Sydney Sportsground in June 1972, with his uncompromising effort leading to a friendship with the Brazilian great in the years that followed.
At the 1974 World Cup Finals he was charged with marshalling the likes of Gerd Muller as Australia faced West Germany, East Germany and Chile in their first ever appearance at the tournament.
Despite going down to ten men, Schaefer helped keep a clean sheet against Chile in the final group game, securing a 0-0 draw which was the Socceroos’ first-ever point at the FIFA World Cup Finals.
As was the part-time nature of Australia’s ’74 heroes, Schaefer took time off his work as a milkman to travel for the tournament.
Schaefer retired off the back of the World Cup, moving into the technical area where he enjoyed a long career as both a coach and an assistant.
He managed the likes of St George, Sydney Olympic, Brunswick-Juventus, APIA Leichhardt, Sydney Croatia, Marconi, Adelaide Sharks and Parramatta Power between 1975 and 2004.
Schaefer was inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame for his service to the game in 1999.
Schaefer's daughter, Kim, is a former CommBank Matilda, representing Australia at junior and senior levels between 1987 and 1992. Kim is now the Goalkeeping coach for the CommBank ParaMatildas.
The Socceroos will wear black armbands when they face Ecuador in Melbourne on Tuesday night, with a moment of silence to be conducted before kick-off.
All of Football Australia and the Socceroos family send their condolences to the Schaefer family, those closest to Manfred, and everyone he impacted through football over the years. Vale.
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