England scorer's biggest Aussie learning from 2003 Socceroos shock
Having scored England’s only goal in their 2003 loss to the Socceroos, striker Francis Jeffers says that despite knowing that they would be up against some quality players, the English went into the game still expecting to win.
“First and foremost, we expected to win,” Jeffers, who played his one and only game for England on the night, told socceroos.com.au.
“We didn’t expect the Australian team to come to England and beat us. We knew that had some good players like Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka. But as I say, we expected to beat them."
However, in the space of 90 minutes, Jeffers' and England's perception of the Australian team was flipped as goals from Tony Popovic, Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton gave Australia a 3-1 win.
He said: “I remember coming away from the game myself thinking how good Australia were, and thinking that they’ll be a team to be followed because they’re getting better and they’ve got some good young players.”
Coach at the time, Sven-Goran Eriksson, had named a large squad with the plan of making mass changes at half-time in order to give younger players an opportunity to represent their country.
“Leading into the game, as a young lad you were hoping that you were going to play some part in the game," said Jeffers.
"Certainly, for me I wasn’t a regular at the time so to be called up for England was a surprise.
“It was a strange game because we knew that there was going to be two teams, one first half and one second. Maybe that was one of the reasons it didn’t go so well on the night.”
Jeffers said that while football can throw up any sort of a result, and England knew it would be a tough game, they believed they would be the better of the two on the night.
He said: “We thought that we would be better than them on the night or that we had better players. Sometimes in football it doesn’t always work out that way."
While Jeffers scored England's goal in the second half - where Wayne Rooney made his debut - the striker would never play for his nation again.
Seven years later, and after multiple clubs in England, Jeffers moved to Australia as a guest player for the Newcastle Jets.
The striker says that while he thoroughly enjoyed his time, he was definitely surprised by the quality of the league and that he believes it improved when he returned 12 months later.
“It was a good league, I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. I didn’t know much about it to be honest when I got there," he said.
“The first time I went there was on a guest appearance, a ten-game guest appearance which obviously, we don’t have in England. I went out there played ten games and loved every minute of it.
“I think the good thing for me was having arrived and not knowing the league was better than I thought it was. Then I got back there a year later, and I think it improved again.”