Fresh from avoiding relegation and winning a new contract at Yokohama Marinos, former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou will be back in Sydney this week to launch a new book.
The new book sheds light on the history between the national team and the Asian region and comes on the eve of the Socceroos defending Postecoglou's 2015 Asian Cup crown
Playing for Australia – the First Socceroos, Asia and World Football is the second book by retired ABC journalist Trevor Thompson and will be launched with Postecoglou in Glebe on Wednesday.
Although Australia didn’t join the Asian Football Confederation until 2006, the book sets out to show how the relationship dates back almost 100 years, and Australia’s international football connections are even older.
The book also compares Australia's experience with other paths taken by football's leading nations in the Asia Pacific region.
“The Australian football story stretches back more than 150 years through the presence of Australians at the birth of the modern game in England," said Thompson.
"British migrants established football in Australia, and the game grew with the arrival of more immigrants who became players, spectators and officials.
“But when the time came for the Australian game to find its own identity, and to express it through its national team, the Anglo-Australian relationship failed.”
Instead, the book says it was Asia that played a key role in the development of Australia's national team in its first two decades - and Australia played a significant role in Asia.
Thompson shows that at the end of the 1920s, Australia had some of the strongest football teams at national and club level within the Asia Pacific region, but lost its way by reliance on English leadership of the game, rather than forging its own identity.
“Australia’s future is intimately bound to Asia in football as in so many other aspects of life,” Thompson writes.
Even so, and despite being reigning Asian champions from the 2015 continental championships, Thompson says there is a cultural gap between Australia and its Asian football neighbours.
He also argues that, as Australia enters a decade of centenaries of important events and dates in the development of the game, the opportunity should be taken on and off the field to build better relationships with football partners, especially in Asia.
Thompson shows that Australia’s football pioneers punched above their weight and helped ensure that football culture and multiculturalism are intrinsic to one another.
“When it comes to football and Australia’s national teams, football understands what it means to be playing for Australia.”
The book is published by Australia's Fair Play Publishing and is available through their website or through Amazon.