Simon Hill's greatest memories covering Australia inside & outside the commentary box

We've been close to war zones, been caught up in a gunfight, and peered over the border into a hermit kingdom.  We've had to endure endless communication problems, altitude sickness, sub-zero temperatures and monsoonal storms - but I wouldn't change a single second.

Covering the Socceroos around the globe has certainly had its challenges since I called my first national team game - a 2004 friendly against Venezuela from the comfy surrounds of an SBS Studio in Sydney - but boy, what experiences they have given me, and many others.  And that's before we even start talking about the football.

I probably should have realised just what a rollercoaster ride this was going to be when I went on my first overseas trip with the 'Roos, in February 2005.  The friendly against South Africa was unremarkable, apart from the lightning storm that briefly knocked out the satellite feed back to Australia, and left me providing "radio-style" commentary from ABSA Stadium in Durban.  That, and an individual thunderbolt from Scott Chipperfield, which earned Australia a 1-all draw.

As it turned out, that was merely a gentle introduction to life on the road with the Socceroos.

WATCH: Simon Hill & Archie Thompson relive world record goals haul v American Samoa

In 2012 for example, Holger Osieck's team played a friendly in Lebanon, ahead of the vital World Cup qualifier with Jordan.  This was at a time when the war in neighbouring Syria was really starting to heat up, and the tension was palpable.

The game was scheduled for Beirut, but was hastily rearranged for the port city of Saida, where the stadium was totally encircled by tanks & soldiers for security purposes.  Our journey back to Beirut post-match was also diverted twice - once due a rumour of Al-Qaeda operatives having planted a roadside bomb (later proven to be untrue), and once due to a gun battle that had erupted on the south side of the capital.

We swerved that particular confrontation, but at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil two years later, we got caught right in the middle of another.

Filming a story with the Green & Gold Army, we'd tagged along on a tour of the Rocinha favela on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.  All was going well until we heard the unmistakable "pop-pop" sound of gunfire.

We were told to take cover until the shooting subsided - which we did, before making our merry way to another part of the favela.  Unfortunately for us, we unwittingly wandered right into the middle of the crossfire, and were quickly surrounded by a very agitated group of armed police, who crowded us into a cake shop, where we were holed up for twenty minutes until the danger cleared.

Other - less life-threatening - experiences have been a feature of life on the road with the 'Roos.  We've visited the DMZ that divides the two Koreas, climbed the Al-Hajjar mountains of Oman, got awful altitude sickness in China, near frostbite during the World Cup in South Africa 2010, and been almost washed away in torrential rainstorms in Singapore and Thailand.

But what incredible life experiences we've had - the likes of which only football can provide.

Which other sport can take you to far-off lands such as Kyrgyzstan, where in-between training sessions my colleague, Daniel Garb, told the story of the country's national sport, Dead Goat Polo?

Or to Iran, where in between stressing over the introduction of Ange Postecoglou's back three, we toured the majestic Golestan Palace, the former royal quarters where coronations took place on a vast Marble Throne?

Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum in Hanoi, Red Square in Moscow, Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio, the Dead Sea & Petra in Jordan and the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland - we've seen them all, thanks to the Socceroos, and the beautiful game.

But football is the reason why we're really there - so on that basis only, here's my top five moments covering the national team over the last fifteen years.

1. WORLD CUP 2006 - I can't separate one game from the other, as the whole tournament was an unbelievable experience.  The story of the Japan, Croatia and Italy games need no re-telling, but many forget the 'Roos put in arguably their best performance in the 2-0 loss to Brazil.  An unforgettable few weeks in glorious weather in a fantastic country.  Just don't mention Fabio Grosso.

2. URUGUAY (Home & Away) 2005 - we all know the story of the second leg in Sydney, but the first leg in Montevideo was also an incredible ride.  The Estadio Centenario was simply THE most atmospheric venue I've ever witnessed.  Against that most incredibly partisan backdrop, Australia minimised the margin of defeat thanks to some Mark Schwarzer heroics, and set the stage for what was to come.  32 years of hurt was duly erased - and as I said on the night in commentary, finally, belatedly, wonderfully and joyfully, Australia was back on the biggest stage.

WATCH: Mini Match of Socceroos v Uruguay

3. ASIAN CUP FINAL 2015 - Ange's finest moment on a nail-bitingly tense evening in Sydney. After having victory snatched away in the final seconds of normal time, Postecoglou had to invoke his best Alf Ramsey impression, imploring his team - after winning it once - to go out & win it again.  They did thanks to James Troisi, and ANZ Stadium was cemented in folklore as the team's spiritual home, where magical things happen.

WATCH: Highlights of Socceroos v Korea Republic

4. GERMANY 1-2 AUSTRALIA 2011 - it may only have been a friendly, but beating the Germans for the first time ever (and on their own patch to boot), was some achievement.  David Carney and Luke Wilkshire netted the goals against a side that included Mats Hummels, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Andre Schurrle, Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller & Miroslav Klose.  That septet would win the World Cup three years later - but on this night in Monchengladbach, the only happy German inside Borussia-Park was the Socceroos coach, Holger Osieck.

5. NETHERLANDS 1-2 AUSTRALIA 2008 - in a similar vein, Pim Verbeek stuck one over on his homeland, with Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy cancelling out Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's opener in Eindhoven.  Even though goalkeeper, Maarten Stekelenberg, was sent off before half time, this was still a hugely impressive win by Australia, against a star-studded Dutch outfit containing Robin Van Persie, Nigel de Jong, Huntelaar and Rafael Van der Vaart.

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