It’s 20 years this week when the Socceroos drew 2-2 with Iran at the MCG and missed out on France 98 when they lost a two-goal lead. Then Socceroo Australia chief David Hill tells us in his own words the story of the Iran heartbreak.
At the MCG
For the first time of any football code in Australia we made the players travel back from Iran to Melbourne in Business class. Even England didn’t do that. Venables wrote in his book that when they flew to Hong Kong the officials were in first class and the players flew in Economy.
Melbourne major events did a fantastic job promoting the game. Driving into Melbourne from Tullamarine airport over the footbridge they had a big poster of Mark Bosnich.
Melbourne was electric with this game in a way that they had never been before. At the Iran game, the home fans were waving the green Iranian flag as well as the deafening whistles sounds and I thought, geez, that is bloody impressive.
I got 4,500 Australian flags and give them away free. I am a Republican. I don’t like to see the Union Jack but I thought that was a nice touch, so we handed them out to Socceroos fans.
When we were up 2-0, I was in the stands saying to people around me, “pack your bags we are going to France”. Why wouldn’t you? Did anybody in the ground think that we weren’t going to the World Cup?
Looking back, there is one only if. After Iran equalised and with five minutes to go, Mark Viduka was brought down in the box by the shoulders. Looking at the replay you can see he was clearly pulled down. Only Viduka was good enough to get his foot to it and it he hit it lamely to the goal keeper. Any mere mortal would not have got near the ball. He was pulled down so savagely, any other person would have fallen down. It was a penatly 100 %.