Football Australia is pleased to announce that six legends of Australian football were inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame at the CommBank Matildas’ match in Melbourne on Saturday included in the list was Greek Australian super coach Ange Postecoglou
Matildas’ greats Moya Dodd and Collette Gardiner (née McCallum), former Socceroos’ Head Coach Ange Postecoglou, globally revered administrator Brendan Schwab, leading Tasmanian media personality Walter Pless, plus past Socceroo and significant contributor to the Australian game off the pitch, Ted Smith, joined an esteemed list of Australian football personalities in the Football Australia Hall of Fame.
All six were nominated to be inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame via a public process, with the nominees then considered by a panel of Australian football historians.
The panel of historians provided their recommendations to the Football Australia Board, with Football Australia’s Directors subsequently ratifying each person’s elevation into the Football Australia Hall of Fame.
Football Australia Chair, Mr Chris Nikou, said: “The Football Australia Hall of Fame is the highest honour bestowed upon players and participants who have served the game – either on or off the field – with distinction, with no better demonstration of this than our Class of 2022.
Football Australia 2022 Hall of Fame Inductees
Australia's highest-profile international male football personality in 2022, Ange Postecoglou's recent coaching success in Scotland has just been the next step of a prolific career mostly in Australia. Postecoglou grew up in Melbourne, initially making his name at South Melbourne FC and winning national championships including as captain and coach. Club coaching success continued at Brisbane Roar FC and in Japan. His international coaching career started at a young age, initially with the Young Socceroos. Postecoglou took the senior side to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and led the Socceroos to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup™ title on home soil, Australia's most prominent international men's tournament victory.
Moya Dodd's playing career spanned almost two decades with the South Australian state team, and with the Matildas from the mid-1980s to mid-90s, including as vice-captain. Since retiring as a player, Dodd has been a fearless advocate for gender equality in football and campaigning for women to have their voices heard at decision making levels in the game. Globally, she has successfully campaigned to give hundreds of millions of girls access to the game with the overturning of the hijab ban and campaigned to have women received at the FIFA Executive Committee for the first time.
Collette Gardiner (née McCallum)
Widely considered one of Australia's greatest female footballers, Collette Gardiner (née McCallum) played for almost a decade with the Matildas. As a youth player her experience was prolific before moving to the senior team where she was the key piece in the Matildas midfield for many years, including the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup™ and in Australia's victorious 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup™ campaign. Born in Scotland and raised in Perth, Gardiner recovered from two ACL injuries as a teenager to become a regular senior Matildas’ player by age 20. She was also one of the first Australian women to win club titles overseas.
Tasmania's 'Mr Football' Walter Pless moved to Hobart from Austria as a child. His love for football grew playing for Glenorchy Knights where he rose to the senior side in the mid-1960s. After a long-playing career, Pless initially focused on coaching, and since 1978 has written and photographed extensively on the game in Tasmania. Despite retiring from full-time work in 2009, he continues to write extensively. In a region where football struggles for national prominence, Pless is an institution and his tireless work in promoting the game for over four decades makes him widely known and loved by the Tasmanian football community.
Brendan Schwab is an architect of the global and Australian player association movements as a co-founder of the World Players Association, FIFPRO Asia / Oceania, the Australian Athletes' Alliance, and Professional Footballers Australia. He has played an instrumental role in the transformation of Australian football over the last two decades. Throughout a 25-year career, he has represented and worked with multiple teams and athletes in several sports, including the Socceroos and Matildas. Over the past five years, Schwab has helped pioneer global sport and human rights movements, by negotiating major human rights commitments with international governing bodies including FIFA.
Raised in Melbourne, Ted Smith played for the Victorian Colts and in the Laidlaw Cup against New Zealand youth, and was in Australia's historic 1956 Olympics squad where he played in both games in Melbourne as a 21-year-old. Smith was a foundation member of the committee appointed by then Soccer Australia to create the national Hall of Fame in the mid-1990s. After retiring, Smith has worked extensively to organise functions for the Socceroos, especially when touring teams have visited. Despite his ageing years, he is still actively promoting the sport in particular the men's national team, including the important Centenary Year in 2022.
Ange Postecoglou humble beginnings
But Ange Postecoglou insists his humble beginnings were key to him becoming Australia's most successful ever coach and the first from his country to manage a top-flight club in Europe.
His spell in charge of Panachaiki from March to December 2008 were his first steps into professional football club management following a stint coaching the Australian national U17 and U20 sides.
He got the job after Con Makris, an Australian-based businessman bought the club and appointed him.
Despite being born in Athens before emigrating to Melbourne with his parents aged five, Postecoglou admitted he was viewed as a foreigner but felt the experience was an enlightening one that he has carried with him throughout his career and into his current role at Celtic Park.
“I still use some of the methods I worked on and put into practice during that time in Greece. Absolutely," he said.
“That was a tricky time, and probably the only time in my career, where there was a little bit of uncertainty.
“I was working pretty regularly up until then but my tenure with the national youth teams came to an end.
“I was struggling to get a job back in Australia. I always had belief in my own abilities but I then got the chance to go to Greece.
“Even though I am Greek, they saw me as a foreigner - as an Aussie.
“My command of the Greek language wasn’t great at the time, but it was an important period for me.
“I had all these theories in my head about coaching when I took on that job, so to be able to work on them was great.
“It allowed me to experiment on what worked, and what didn’t.
“I had a group of players who were totally different to my own culture and upbringing in Australia.
“But I just found the experience really rejuvenating in terms of my career and my beliefs. It really helped me going forward.”
Greek football fans are known for displaying their passion but the level of scrutiny he faced – which included the local priest questioning his decisions – only gave Postecoglou satisfaction and a drive to succeed in demanding environments.
“I loved the chaos of Greece. I love Greek football and how you go from one extreme to the other so quickly.
“The same people who wanted to carry you on their shoulders after a win would be having a go at you outside the bus seven days later.
“I could see their faces - it was exactly the same people.
“But I loved that. It sort of lit a fire inside me at the time and since then, things have gone well.
“That time in Greece just showed me that I love being around passionate football people.
“The fans were very passionate and if we lost, they’d let you know they weren’t happy.
“I remember once we lost a game and I was crossing the street the next day. The local priest stopped me.
“He started questioning my substitutions in the game and that summed it up.
“The whole city was enraptured by their team and I loved that.
“It just showed me that I was comfortable in that sort of environment. There was nothing I needed to fear.
“Working under that scrutiny wasn’t going to change me, or give me stress.
“Greece showed me that was the type of environment that I did want to be in.
“Before I came to Celtic, people weren’t warning me as such, but they tried to prepare me for what I was going to face.
“But what they didn’t realise is that this is exactly what I want. This is where I want to be, where I have always wanted to be.
“That part of it wasn’t daunting for me at all."
Coaching has been part of Postecoglou's make-up since his youth. He took his first steps on the ladder at the age of 12 after taking charge of the Year 7 team at Prahran High School in Melbourne.
“Looking back, it seems crazy. To me more than anyone else," he reflected.
“I don’t know why people were listening to a 12-year-old but there must have been something about me that made them.
“It’s quite bizarre when you think about it, but it’s probably why I have always felt more of a coach.
“I struggled with my playing career as I just felt that my destiny was to be a manager.
“That was the space where I always felt most comfortable.
“I would have been annoying as a 12-year-old coach. In fact, I am sure that I would have annoyed a lot of people.
“But that’s when the coaching career started.
“There hadn’t been a soccer team before and we put a group together.
“We had a music teacher who said he would take the team but there wasn’t any coaching or training.
“He would sit and mark his homework while we all just had a kickabout.
“After the first few sessions, I took control. It sounds bizarre because I was so young.
“But for some reason, I took control of the whole thing and people listened.
“I didn’t just pretend to be the coach. I picked the team, we had sessions and I told everyone what to do.
“Looking back, I think I got power hungry!
“I was a player, coach and captain and one of my closest mates, we are still friends to this day, wanted to bring me down a peg or two.
“He decided that the team would have a vote to see if I should continue as captain.
“We had the vote and it ended up being unanimous.
“I said to my mate, ‘How could it be unanimous if you called the vote in the first place?’
“And he said, ‘I voted for you too. You are the best person for the job but I just wanted to see if other people would vote for you!’
“I was running the show and to this day, I don’t understand why anyone listened to me. I wasn’t anything special!
“My mates still say to me, ‘Why were we listening to you back then?’
“But we ended up winning the under-12s state championship at South Melbourne’s ground.”