Socceroos players and officials wore black armbands on Tuesday night for their friendly against Ecuador after the death of 1974 World Cup representative Manfred Schaefer. The Socceroos great, who represented Australia 73 times between 1967 and 1974, died on Tuesday at age 80.
"Today we mourn the passing of a giant of Australian football in Manfred Schaefer," Football Australia chairman Chris Nikou said in a statement. "While not born in Australia, Manfred gave everything to Australia, representing the country both on and off the field with the greatest of distinction.
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"Even after retiring as a player, Manfred influenced the careers of so many of the nation's finest players through his technical brilliance and strong managerial skills for almost three decades. Manfred loved all levels of Australian football and would regularly be found supporting the sport, whether at grassroots, NPL, Australia Cup or national team level, where his presence will now be sorely missed but always felt.
"On behalf of Football Australia and the Australian football community, I send my deepest condolences to the Schaefer family, his friends and former teammates at this sad time. Manfred Schaefer, forever cap 198."
The Socceroos wore black armbands on Tuesday night as a mark of respect. A minute's silence was held ahead of their 2-1 loss to Ecuador at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.
Schaefer was born in East Germany and migrated to Australia at the age of 10, taking up football at high school. He made his international debut for Australia at the Quoc Khanh Cup under coach Joe Vlatsis in 1967, helping the Aussies win the trophy.
In tribute to @Socceroos legend Manfred Schaefer who passed away at the age of 80 earlier today, a Moment of Silence was held earlier. Mr Schaefer was capped 73 times for Australia between 1967 & 1974. 10 Football sends our condolences to the Schaefer Family. Vale. #AUSvECU pic.twitter.com/6bISL223r3
— 10 Football (@10FootballAU) March 28, 2023
The defender started all three group games in Australia's first-ever World Cup finals appearance in West Germany in 1974, taking time off from his job as a milkman to play. He helped a 10-man Socceroos side claim their first-ever point at a World Cup with a 0-0 draw in their final game against Chile.
After retiring following the World Cup in 1974, Schaefer enjoyed a long coaching career with the likes of St George, Sydney Olympic, Brunswick-Juventus, APIA Leichhardt, Sydney Croatia, Marconi, the Adelaide Sharks and Parramatta Power. He was inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame in 1999 for his service to the game.
RIP Manfred a true Socceroos hero and great servant of Australian football
— David Basheer (@Bashola66) March 28, 2023
— Andy Paschalidis (@AndyPaschalidis) March 27, 2023
Sorry to hear of Manny’s passing. A true football legend and a thoroughly decent human being. My thoughts and love go out to fmr. Matildas GK daughter Kim and the Schaefer family. 😇🙏🏼💚💛🇦🇺⚽️
— IR Fighter (@IRFighter) March 28, 2023
This is very sad news. What a player he was.
— Martin (@hammersaint) March 28, 2023
So sad to hear of the passing of a Socceroos great Manfred Schaefer. Manfred was a hard man on the field but so kind off it. A legend of the game. Always got on well with him. Lived most of his life in Cabramatta. They broke the mould when they made him. Vale Manfred.
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) March 27, 2023
Sad day. He gave so much to the game in Australia. RIP Manfred Schaefer. pic.twitter.com/LSPZzyov73
— Michael Cain (@caineyten) March 27, 2023
RIP Manfred Schaefer…wonderful servant to the local game.xmb pic.twitter.com/BIIAmM07ck
— Mark Bosnich (@TheRealBozza) March 28, 2023
Socceroos take key lessons form loss to Ecuador
The Socceroos suffered a difficult 2-1 loss in the second match of their friendly series against Ecuador, four days after a 3-1 victory in Sydney. But coach Graham Arnold was happy with the side's learning experience and the unearthing of depth ahead of a new World Cup cycle.
"It was a great series. It's a great opportunity to give some of the young boys an opportunity and also to see what it takes to be top players," he said. "A team in South America that finished fourth in their qualifiers. They did well at the World Cup.
"These types of things are great learning experiences for the players. We set a challenge for the boys at the start of the camp of winning the series. So, me being positive, we won the series: one win each, we scored four goals and they scored three."
Goalkeeper Joe Gauci made his debut, while Alex Robertson, Aiden O'Neill and Jordan Bos all showed positive signs in their respective first games. "I see this as a fantastic 10 days," Arnold said.
"We found players. We found three, four or five kids that can handle the level. And they're only going to get better. But we need to expose them to these types of things.
"When you see players that can deal with those types of teams and those types of players, you just know that the future is bright for the kids. Before the camp, it was about finding some more players and getting players ready for it. Which players could step up? It's been a win, for me."
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