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Australian football pioneer Rasic dies aged 87

Australian football pioneer Rasic dies aged 87

June 8, 2023 (AFP)

Australia remembered Rale Rasic as a pioneer Thursday after the man who took the country to its first football World Cup died aged 87.

Current Socceroos coach Graham Arnold called it "devastating" and his team will wear black armbands for next Thursday's friendly against Argentina in Beijing.

"Rale changed the game in Australia in 1974, qualifying Australia for the first World Cup ever," Arnold said in a statement.

Announcing his death, Football Australia called Rasic a pioneer, a sentiment echoed by local media and former international Craig Foster.

"A legend from the '74 World Cup, pioneer (at) Socceroos team and who lived for the game he loved with a fierce, lifelong passion," the former midfielder tweeted.

Rasic was appointed Australia coach aged just 34, and under him they embarked on a 12-match unbeaten run during a world tour in 1972.

They memorably drew 2-2 against a Santos side containing Pele.

Football Australia said that Rasic's influence and leadership would never be forgotten.

"Rasic's journey from Yugoslavian orphan and migrant to one of the youngest ever FIFA World Cup coaches is one of the great stories in Australian sporting history," it said.

"He made an indelible mark on Australian football as both a player and coach, where his contributions to the sport will be remembered and cherished by the football community at large."

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