Former greats unite with Sydney FC

Hyundai A-League 2010 Champions Sydney FC has today announced it will provide every former Socceroos player and head coach that lives in New South Wales with a free membership to the club starting from the 2010/11 season.

Hyundai A-League 2010 Champions Sydney FC has today announced it will provide every former Socceroos player and head coach that lives in New South Wales with a free membership to the club starting from the 2010/11 season.

The exciting initiative will recognise the contribution the former greats have made to the game while allowing them to continue to give to the sport they have served in Australia.

Any ex-player or head coach who has represented Australia in an official match will be eligible for Sky Blues Membership which they can renew annually, each also receiving a free season membership for one nominated partner or guest.

Sydney FC will parade the greats of the game to the crowd on hand for Sydney FC-s blockbuster round one match against arch rivals Melbourne Victory at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday 7 August before taking in the match.

Club legend and new National Youth League coach Steve Corica will be the last member of the group as a way of recognising his contribution to both the club and national team throughout his career.

Former Socceroos Ted Smith, Paul Wade, Ray Richards and Rob Wheatley joined Sydney FC-s Alex Brosque, Shannon Cole and Hayden Foxe at the Sydney Football Stadium this afternoon to help launch the initative.

The club will soon contact all eligible people to offer them the free membership. Sydney FC CEO Edwin Lugt said that it is vital for the game to recognise the codes past heroes.

“Not only must Sydney FC but the entire football community honour the contribution the former Socceroos players and coaches have made to football in Australia,” Lugt said. “The game wouldn-t be where it is today without the efforts and work of these people.”

“This is a small gesture of respect for our game-s former greats. We aim to give them the recognition they deserve.”

Sydney FC is connecting with all eligible people via the ‘Socceroo Club- and Secretary Ted Smith, who represented Australia at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

“Despite whether the player or coach has long retired, we all deeply enjoy continuing to contribute to our great game,” Smith said.

“We get so much out of watching the game grow, watching the A-League move forward and of course the Socceroos do the country proud when they out on the green and gold.

“It is the biggest honour in life to represent your country and to be recognised for this gives us all a special feeling.”

There are approximately 150 former Socceroos currently living in New South Wales.

“Sydney FC welcomes all of the state-s former Socceroos to come and enjoy the great football on offer here and we can build a relationship for many years to come,” Lugt said.

The legendary Joe Marston, who played for the Socceroos between 1947 and 1964 said it was great to see a modern day football club recognised the achievements of many of the game-s greatest.

“I would have loved to have been at the launch today. It is really tremendous to still be thought about and recognised for what we did for the game many years ago,” Marston said from his home on the Central Coast.

“We thoroughly enjoy seeing the game grow and we all want to and do whatever we can to see it continue to prosper. I know all the other former players and coaches will appreciate this gesture.”

Eligible former players and coaches can contact either Sydney FC on 1300 479 332 or or Ted Smith at the Socceroo Club on 0408 405 099 for more information.

Ray Richards Born: 18/5/1946 Socceroo statistics: 31 Caps, 5 goals (plus 29 appearances / 5 goals in non-A internationals) 1967-1975

Club career: 1963 - 1966 Latrobe 1967 - 1969 Hollandia 1969 - 1978 Marconi 1979 Apia Leichhardt

Known as a midfielder destroyer and with an incredibly long throw, English-born Richards played major roles in both the 1970 and 1974 World Cup campaigns, and started in all three of Australia-s matches at the 1974 finals. Rob Wheatley Born: 17/1/1962 Socceroo statistics: 5 Caps 1981-1986

Club career: 1981 - 1985 Blacktown City Demons 1989 - 1990 Marconi Stalliona/Parramatta Eagles 1994 - Bonyrigg White Eagles Wheatley, a defender, went on to make 9 appearances (5 'A' matches) for the Socceroos between 1981 and 1990. From 2000-2002, Rob was a coach at Mosman Football Club. He was a fantastic player and also represented Australia at the U20 Youth World Cup in 1981 and was an Australian Schoolboy in 1986. Paul Wade Born: 20/03/1962 Socceroo statistics: 84 caps, 10 goals 1986 - 1996 Club career: 1984 - Green Gully 1985 - 1986 Brunswick Juventus 1987 - 1995 South Melbourne 1995 - Heidelberg United 1995 - 1997 Canberra Cosmos Wade's 84 international appearances for Australia make him the second most capped player in the country's history (only Alex Tobin, with 87, had more). In total, Wade played 118 games for Australia between 1986 and 1996. He represented the Socceroos at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and in two FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns (1990 and 1994). One of his most famous moments came in 1993, during qualifying for the 1994 World Cup when Australia faced Argentina. Faced with the dubious honour of marking star Diego Maradona, Wade was valiant in helping Australia stay in the two games, although they would eventually lose 2-1 on aggregate goals following a 1-0 defeat in Buenos Aires. Ted Smith Born: 24/11/1935 Socceroo statistics: 2 A appearances, 1956 (Olympic Games) Club career: Preston Moreland South Melbourne Hakoah

Ted Smith had the honour of being amongst a select band of footballers to represent Australia at our first appearance on the stage - the 1956 Olympic Games. A speedy left winger, Smith represented Victoria on many occasions in a glittering career which largely took place during Australia's absence from international football in the late 50's and early 60's.