John Aloisi’s penalty is the greatest moment in Australian footballing history

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    No Australian sports fans will ever forget 'That Night'. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    There could only be one. When John Aloisi blasted home from the penalty spot in Homebush, he notched the greatest moment in Socceroos history.

    The first thing that hit you was the noise. All around the ground now known as ANZ Stadium – not least in the densely-packed bar en route to the stadium – you could hear noise.

    The noise of people chatting. The clink of glasses being collected. The chants of the Uruguay fans massed outside the turnstiles growing louder by the minute.

    If ever Socceroos fans wanted to experience a genuine world-class atmosphere, this was the game.

    The second leg of Australia’s intercontinental playoff against Uruguay in November 2005 has taken on folkloric proportions.

    Judging by the number of people who say they were there, it’s quite possibly the best-attended football match of all time.

    But even for the more than 82,000 fans who actually were in attendance, it’s hard to describe the noise.

    It started as a low roar before kick-off, then rose to a frantic pitch when the two teams emerged from the tunnel. And it reached a crescendo during the Uruguayan national anthem.

    Sepp Blatter was reportedly incensed when Australian fans booed the Uruguayan anthem.

    But he didn’t know the history. And he scarcely understood the significance.

    And – perhaps more importantly – he ignored the fact that the Uruguayans did the same thing to the Australian anthem in Montevideo!

    The Socceroos lost that first leg 1-0. You’d struggle to find a team more confident of mastering its fate despite going into a second leg a goal down.

    That’s partly because the crowd was so loud on the night. And partly because the Socceroos were a star-studded side.

    And partly, let’s be honest, because of Guus Hiddink.

    ‘Aussie Guus,’ as he affectionately became known, was Football Federation Australia’s not-so-secret weapon.

    A coach who exuded charm and relied as much on charisma as any tactical nous, the vastly experienced Dutchman was calmness personified in the white-hot confines of Homebush.

    He somehow got his charges to relax – despite the occasion, in spite of the noise, and despite Alvaro Recoba missing a gilt-edged chance early on in the piece.

    And when he hooked Tony Popovic after barely half an hour – the colossal central defender had picked up an early booking – his introduction of Harry Kewell changed the game.

    Kewell will go down as one of the most talented Australian footballers in history, yet his most telling contribution was undoubtedly a horrible miscue.

    Lucky Mark Bresciano was on hand to smash home the loose ball. His trademark Spartacus celebration was at odds with the pandemonium raging in the stands.

    In truth, Bresciano’s goal was more of a relief than anything. It didn’t feel like the Socceroos were on the path to the Germany as much as it felt like they could now simply relax and play football.

    But there wasn’t a whole lot of football played for the remaining hour. It might have spawned the most famous penalty shoot-out in Socceroos history, but few fans today could tell you what – if anything – happened in extra-time.

    They don’t need to. We all know what happened next.

    Kewell slotted home his cool-as-you-like penalty. Mark Schwarzer parried from Dario Rodriguez.

    Lucas Neill and Gustavo Varela then traded successful spot-kicks. “Team spirit for the jersey!” quipped Craig Foster on the TV commentary.

    Then Tony Vidmar and Fabian Estoyanoff both slotted home.

    Before, finally, disaster struck for the Socceroos.

    Mark Viduka is fondly remembered as one of Australia’s greats, but he rolled his spot-kick agonisingly wide. And all those painful memories of past heartbreaks came flooding back.

    “People miss penalty kicks,” said Foster – fading fast – in the commentary box. “Roberto Baggio missed. Michel Platini missed.”

    “He’s been a great captain. It’s now up to Mark Schwarzer. This would be a great one to save.”

    Famous last words.

    Schwarzer’s subsequent save deserves its place in pantheon as one of the most heroic feats ever performed in a Socceroos jersey.

    But it’s largely overshadowed by what happened next.

    As John Aloisi strode confidently to the penalty spot, it felt like time was standing still. It was as though all the air had been sucked out of the stadium.

    With the weight of the nation on his shoulders and watched by one of the largest audiences in Australian television history, Aloisi stepped forward with the chance to exorcise 32 years of frustration with one well-placed spot-kick.

    Was there ever any doubt?

    The noise when he scored – deafening before the game – was now indescribable.

    It wasn’t just the greatest moment in Socceroos history, it was one of the best ever moments in Australian sport.

    Until now. History is worth remembering, but records are made to be broken.

    The Socceroos have never progressed beyond the second round, but that’s the task that stands before Bert van Marwijk and his team in Russia.

    As we count down the greatest moments in Socceroos history, we want you to tell us what your favourites are. Have your say in the picker below!

    Check out the rest of the countdown:
    10. Australia’s performances – and Tim Cahill’s goal – in 2014
    9. When we almost qualified for USA 94
    8. Charlie Yankos’ stunning free-kick against Argentina
    7. Beating France and Brazil in 2001
    6. England 3, Australia 1: Beating the Poms in their own backyard
    5. Knocking Croatia out of Germany in the craziest game in Australian history
    4. Australia’s historic 3-1 win over Japan in Kaiserslautern
    3. Making our debut on the world stage in 1974
    2. Winning the Asian Cup in Australia
    1. John Aloisi’s penalty

    The Australian men’s football team is sure to produce some more memorable moments in Russia this year. Catch all the action in the best way possible by coming together with your friends and family and watching it on an epic big screen Samsung QLED TV. Explore the big-screen range.

    Haven’t seen your friends lately? Send them a personal message from Tim Cahill with TIMVITE and get ready to watch the big games.

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    The Crowd Says (63)

    • June 8th 2018 @ 6:47am
      Onside said | June 8th 2018 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      John Aloisi provided the defining moment ,but Mark Schwarzer played the
      most important part, creating Aloisis opportunity with two incredible saves.

      I copied and pasted this from

      When people think of Australia’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup, they instantly remember John Aloisi’s famous spot kick. Yet when news of Schwarzer’s international retirement was revealed, people instantly remembered his two heroic penalty saves in that same shootout against Uruguay in 2005. It would be wrong to say those saves were solely responsible for getting Australia back on the big stage, but it would certainly be right to recognise Schwarzer as the hero of that dramatic penalty shootout ahead of Aloisi. The first save was huge, the second was incredible. It was not enough just to guess the right direction of the kick, but he needed to call on the quickest of his reflexes and agility to fire up a big right hand to firmly deny the shot. And that was immediately after his captain Mark Viduka missed his shot from the spot. Schwarzer has left a legacy not just for goalkeepers and the football in Australia, but he played the biggest and most important part in one of the greatest moments in Australian sporting history.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 8:30am
        AGO74 said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        He also made crucial saves in the 1st leg including a one on one with Recoba when he effortlessly swatted away his chip shot. The critical thing in that save as well as the shootout was to not commit. Wait and let the opponent make a decision. Put the pressure on them. He executed this strategy perfectly in Montevideo and Sydney.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2018 @ 12:40pm
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | June 8th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        I’m with you. For me the moment of going into raptures was Schwarzers save prior to Aloisi’s penalty. I’m happy to be in the minority, however that is the moment I went nuts.

        • June 8th 2018 @ 1:52pm
          Fadida said | June 8th 2018 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

          I just remember the moments between Schwarzer’s second save and the Aloisi penalty.


      • June 9th 2018 @ 12:02pm
        marron said | June 9th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        His stance was incredible especially when one of the Uruguay players tried to fake him out. I KNEW then we were going to make it. It was weird,,but I knew.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 7:35am
      AGO74 said | June 8th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      The noise. This is so true Mike. I’ve never even come close to a crowd which had so much noise and so much raw energy. It was extraordinary. I think that the circumstances of the match and the realisation our dream was so close would have been enough to create something unparalleled. But the fact it was Uruguay and all the on and off field history/baggage that came with that country meant that the overwhelming majority of the crowd went to tipping point and wanted blood that night and were willing to do whatever it took to help Australia win. I can’t see how (short of winning our first World Cup) such an energy and atmosphere can be recreated.

      Mikes comment about the game passing by is true. Truth be told (because of said nervous energy) I actually recall very little from the game (this may also be to do with the 6 or 7 schooners I had to calm said nerves). The penalty shoot out was a different story. It seemed like this moment of deciding whether or not we’d go through to our first World Cup in 32 years was traveling at the speed of light. I could not keep up but when finally aloisi scored to win I became ababbling mess.

      Simon Hill and Craig fosters commentary is rightly famous. It was a night when professional commentators turned into demented fans but there is another commentary by Peter Wilkins and Andy Harper on ABC radio which I love. They’re commentary is exceptional but to the point of my comment around noise, desperation and energy is illustrated by the crowd you can feel as much as hear it in the background. It builds and builds to the Aloisi crescendo. It still gives me chills listening to it as I instantly feel like I’ve been transported back to that night (tip – listen to it with headphones on to get the stadium feel).

      Just quietly I also love Peter Wilkins comment (to put it mildly) straight after the aloisi penalty of “Australian soccer is reboooooorn”.—australia-versus-uruguay/741976?pfmredir=sm

      • June 8th 2018 @ 8:52am
        Kangas said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Peter Wilkins call is brilliant, that just brought back everything from that night .

        Listen to that every one

      • June 8th 2018 @ 1:24pm
        rakshop said | June 8th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        100% agree with the ABC commentary. There used to be a youtube clip that dubbed the abc commentary over the SBS feed but it has since been deleted. The dubbed version sent chills down your spine even more than the SBS call….. and you realise how poor Craig Foster’s moaning was in hindsight.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 2:44pm
        Greg Christian said | June 8th 2018 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        Cheers AGO73 for the ABC commentary! Tears to the eyes stuff 13 years later.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 3:04pm
        chris said | June 8th 2018 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

        oh wow. Even after all these years that is brilliant.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 4:23pm
        BenG said | June 8th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

        Goosebumps listening to that…

      • June 8th 2018 @ 5:56pm
        Fadida said | June 8th 2018 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

        Oh my god, that was incredible audio. Brought tears to my eyes, and as others have said it was like I was back there again.

        Unless we win the WC that won’t be topped.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2018 @ 10:59pm
        Griffo said | June 8th 2018 @ 10:59pm | ! Report

        Just listened to this audio – headphones with volume up – and the emotion! Incredible even after 12+ years!

        Brilliant call.

        I even pumped my fist in the air…again. ✊🏼

    • June 8th 2018 @ 8:04am
      Fadida said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Beautifully captured Mike.

      I was there and I am proud to say I booed. They would have done the same.

      A lifetime of football desperation came out that night. Iran ’97 one of the worst moments of my life.

      Yes the penalty seemed in slow motion.

      My friends and I cried as it went in. I’ve never experienced such emotion and the feeling lasted for days

      Other memories, the Irish tourist beside us joined in the pile up. He couldn’t believe the atmosphere. The train to back to the city, people were glowing with happiness, indescribable joy. Meeting Lucas Neill in the early hours of the morning, really nice guy.

      Best night ever. I’ve seen the replay of the shootout 50 times, and I still fight back tears

      • Roar Rookie

        June 8th 2018 @ 8:49am
        Stevo said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        “I was there and I am proud to say I booed. They would have done the same.” 10000%

        Sepp not aware of the reception the Socceroos got in Montevideo in 2001 ????

        • June 8th 2018 @ 9:30am
          Fadida said | June 8th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Sepp would have been too busy ogling female players “attractive bodies” and taking backhanders.

          He sounds perfect for Queensland politics.

          • June 8th 2018 @ 10:31am
            Lionheart said | June 8th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

            weird comment Fadida
            bizarre even

        • June 8th 2018 @ 9:58am
          chris said | June 8th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          Poor old demented Sepp. Should have given it away ages ago.
          Streaming out of the stadium that night and heading back to the car with my aussie flag draped over me was like floating on a cloud.
          I had tears knowing that for once we’d be part of the big dance instead of just being spectators and following a second team.
          I drove into the city and people were jumping into my car yelling and screaming before they jumped out again and joined the impromptu street parties down George st.

        • June 8th 2018 @ 10:50am
          BigAl said | June 8th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          I’m sure I saw something where FIFA was considering doing away with national anthems before international games because of persistent booing…

          • June 8th 2018 @ 11:12am
            chris said | June 8th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

            Gee I hope not BigAl. To be honest you don’t really hear jeering and booing and when they do there is usually a good reason for the crowd to do so.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 10:15am
        AGO74 said | June 8th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        My mate lost his voice during the Uruguay anthem due to his booming booing. For the rest of the game he was (trying to yell – but there was basically nothing coming out!

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2018 @ 2:18pm
        Kaks said | June 8th 2018 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

        The nostalgia this post has brought me is incredible. I unashamedly booed. My father – an Iranian immigrant who is as gentle and quiet as they come – booed too. It was just that kind of night where we all wanted to do everything we could to get the boys to the World Cup. Will never experience anything like that in our lifetime again.

        • June 8th 2018 @ 3:49pm
          chris said | June 8th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

          Kaks it was more than just trying to help the team. It was also payback for all the abuse we had copped earlier.
          Remember the spitting and abuse being hurled at the team as they ran for the bus? Paid goons threatening.
          The noise they made under the hotel to stop our boys from sleeping.
          I remember seeing a doco on the Uruguay leg and the abuse they copped from the man in the street as the bus went by.
          So yes they deserved the booing that night in Sydney

      • June 9th 2018 @ 12:00pm
        marron said | June 9th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        Another booer here.
        It was a tipping point, as AG said. It felt like we had all grown up all bit and knew it would take everything to get us over the line.

        I’d not heard anything like it before or since.

        And the euphoria at the end which lasted for hours was pretty awesome too. The noise kept going in the stadium for so long.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 8:05am
      AR said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      Very good Mike.

      And this piece reminded me of just how good Schwarzer was – not just in that immense game, but throughout qualifying and the Cup itself.

      Schwarzer sits comfortably in the top 5 of our greatest Socceroos ever in my opinion.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 8:37am
      Kangas said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      To be at that game , the most cherished sporting moment ever .

    • June 8th 2018 @ 8:42am
      Johnny Chen said | June 8th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      Thanks, Mike. Glad to see this great moment acknowledged, although as your rightly allude to, it was also coupled with our lowest moment as a sporting nation – when we booed an opposition anthem. I almost walked out of the ground at the point, but my mates convinced me to stay i.e. that by leaving I would be letting the haters win.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 12:25pm
        Fadida said | June 8th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        “our lowest point as a sporting nation”?

        Across a myriad of sports we’ve had racism, violence, homophobia, drug taking, match fixing, cheating etc but you choose this one?

        Maybe you should have walked out

      • June 9th 2018 @ 7:28am
        Kurt said | June 9th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        they spat on our players and were openly hostile with affording police protection, they let fireworks off outside the hotel and had hotel raids at night, the uraguayans were disrespectful of the team, and they openly booed our anthem on 2 occasions after we had shown them respect in melbourne, thats not even mentioning the rubbish they tried to pull with the flights back.
        the better team one on and off the park, bugger the Uraguayans on that day.

        • June 9th 2018 @ 11:25am
          Fadida said | June 9th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

          Agree totally. I’m much happier that we contributed to the Uruguayans being put off their game and making the finals than taking the moral high ground and missing the best sporting moment I have ever seen.

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