Rale Rasic has a unique position in Australian football. Rasic was the first coach to take Australia to the FIFA World Cup, which he achieved in 1974 when the tournament had 16 nations participating not 32 as it is today. He coached Australia in 58 international matches from 1970 to 1974.
Rasic immigrated to Australia in 1962 from Yugoslavia but returned to his homeland after just 18 months to serve in the army. After meeting his obligations, he returned to Australia, and played football in the Victorian league before embarking on a coaching career.
Upon his return from the World Cup, the Australian Soccer Federation sacked him as national coach, replacing him with Englishman Brian Green (who later fled the country after he was caught shoplifting). Rasic believed he was sacked because he was not seen as being a "real" Aussie.
Rasic stated, "They took from me something that I was doing better than anyone else. I was a true-blue Aussie, and nobody could deny that. I taught the players how to sing the national anthem." These days, as the first coach to take Australia to the World Cup, Rasic is widely respected in Australian sport.
Rasic's first coaching job was at Footscray JUST followed by Melbourne HSC, St George Budapest, Marconi, and Pan-Hellenic. In 1967, he coached Footscray to the Victorian championship and from 1968 to 1970, he was the Victorian senior coach.
In 1970, he coached the Victorian youth team to the National Championships and in 1971 coached St George to the New South Wales Grand Final. His St George team participated in the Tokyo International tournament, becoming the first Australian club to win a trophy abroad.
He would go on to achieve many more coaching accolades, including the National Soccer League Coach of the Season, twice. In 2004, Rasic was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his service to football as a player, coach and administrator.
When you hear the name, Rale Rasic, you can only think of one word: icon.
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