'You were right... Australians can play football': England coach's Socceroos admission after 2003 triumph

February 13, 2003. The day the Socceroos defeated England for the first time - and on their own turf no less. 

It was a match where the home team was expected to dominate proceedings, but Australia - who hadn't played a game for 13 months - took control from the outset and never relinquished it.

Goals to Tony Popovic, Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton saw the Socceroos not only triumph over England, but also change perceptions of Australian football.

After the Socceroos' Facebook and Youtube pages Premiered the full 2003 friendly game on Tuesday night, Paul Okon - who captained Australia in the match - revealed on Twitter how the result impacted what then-England coach Sven-Göran Eriksson thought of Australian football.

Okon tweeted: "At full time when I shook hands with my ex Lazio coach Sven Goran he said to me, 'you were right when you told me in Rome that Australian’s can play football'".

Okon had played under Eriksson at Lazio and had won several trophies, including; the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup during that time.

However, it took the Socceroos' defeat of England for Eriksson to admit to Okon the potential abilities of the Australian players.

While the 2003 match was a 'friendly' game, it marked the beginning of the Socceroos' journey to qualify for their first FIFA World Cup in 32 years.

The final hurdle would come against Uruguay on November 16, 2005, where Australia triumphed in a dramatic play-off decided in a penalty shootout.

You can watch the qualifier against Uruguay as well as the friendly match against England in full on the Socceroos website now.

When both those matches were played in 2003 and 2005, social media didn't exist.

However, it did for the full match Premieres on the Socceroos digital channels.

Here is a snapshot of how social media reacted to #ENGvAUS!

MATCH REPORT: Socceroos stun England in historic first win on English soil

While fans didn't have smartphones in 2003 to snap photos and videos to keep as memories, several still had other memorabilia they had kept 17 years later.

And now was the perfect time for it to resurface!

Before the game had even begun, several fans thought they had an idea of what the score might be - and that included then-Socceroos coach Frank Farina.

While Frank was confident in 2020 that he knew what the result was going to be, it was a different story before the game back in 2003.

In his post-match press conference after the 3-1 win, he said: “If someone would have said to me that you’d win 3-1 before the game I wouldn’t have believed them."

“I'm very happy. Happy doesn't cover it.”

He added: “When you look at the game as a whole, I thought we played extremely well."

“Without sounding big-headed, I thought we could have scored more than three."

From the very start of the match, Australia stamped their authority over the match with the likes of Stan Lazaridis bolting down the left wing and Okon manning the midfield.

Popovic opened the scoring after burying a header from a Lazaridis free kick in the 16th minute, but it was Kewell's dazzling goal just before half time that really sent the Australian fans into raptures.

With the score at 2-0 heading into the second half, England substituted their entire starting XI, with 17-year-old Wayne Rooney handed a debut as he became England's youngest player ever.

Meanwhile, the Socceroos made one change with Josip Skoko coming off for Mark Bresciano.

And, immediately Bresciano caught the eye of Australian fans.

England managed to pull one goal back through debutant Francis Jeffers, but Brett Emerton cancelled it out with his own strike close to the end of the match.

With the score at 3-1, Australian fans in the crowd and on social media were celebrating.

While it was a superb result for Australia, English fans were none too happy.

And the newspapers the next morning certainly didn't hold back.

But, the match provided some incredible memories for Australian fans that they still value to this day.

The content doesn't stop there!

If you enjoyed reliving the England game, then head to our 'Stay At Home' hub for more Socceroos news, videos and full matches!

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