My Socceroos debut – Stan Lazaridis
IT’S less his dashing runs that stand out from his Socceroos debut over 15 years ago, and more a flying suitcase for Stan Lazaridis.
Friendly Date: 16 April, 1993 Venue: Singapore Score: Australia 1-0 Kuwait Scorer: Trimboli ‘10
Line-up: Robert Zabica, Andrew Marth, Stan Lazaridis, Milan Ivanovic, Alex Tobin, Milan Blagojevic, Branko Milosevic, Paul Wade (c), Steve Corica, Paul Trimboli (Warren Spink 78), Carl Veart (Damian Mori 49) Goal : Trimboli ‘10
IT-S less his dashing runs that stand out from his Socceroos debut over 15 years ago, and more a flying suitcase for Stan Lazaridis.
The 20-year-old Lazaridis suffered a stern initiation test while away with the Socceroos
“My memories were Andrew Marth threw out my suitcase on level 26,-- Lazaridis recalled.
“I used all my money to buy a beautiful custom-made cashmere suit but as my initiation I lost all my clothes and my suitcase.
“I went to get suitcase, locked on the fitness level, but the fitness centre didn-t open until 7am and we were leaving at 6am.
"So when we left Singapore my suit was still there.
“Mehmet Durakovic, Kevin Muscat, John Markovski and all the boys found it hilarious.--
While it is doubtful the cashmere suit would have lasted the test of time in the ever-changing world of fashion, Lazaridis the footballer certainly did.
The fleet-footed left-footer, then with West Adelaide, had an outstanding match and it paved the way for a long and illustrious international career.
“I didn-t think much of it to be honest, I never thought I-d play for Australia again and treated it as a one off game, but I never came out of the team after that,-- he said.
“Before the game I was scared. I was a young lad coming in with a bunch of experienced payers like Paul Wade, Milan Ivanovic and Alex Tobin.
“We won 1-0 and I had a pretty good match. I remember Eddie Thomson was really happy with me and I was just delighted to have done well.
“I was with West Adelaide at the time and Raul Blanco (then Socceroos assistant) pushed for me to get in there - he was really good to me.
“Things got better and better and then the English journey started with Harry Redknapp at West Ham.--
Laza, as he is affectionately known, went on to play 71 games for the green and gold, appeared in four World Cup campaigns (1994, -98, 2002 and 2006) and proved to be one of the Socceroos- most reliable players over his journey.
The highlight (and lowlight) probably came in the second leg of the -97 qualifier against Iran at the MCG when Lazaridis tore the opposition to shreds down the left wing.
“When I look back at my career, would I change much? Not really. I achieved everything I set out to do and had a great time,-- said Lazaridis, adding “although I was gutted I lost my suit”.
“I played in four World Cup campaigns, over 70 matches and I had a good understanding with the public, which was important to me.
“I played over 300 games in England and had nine years in the Premiership.
“It was different to what Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill experience now.
“Now I sit back and watch the boys and it is a different sort of pressure.--
Lazaridis was one of the first Socceroos to enjoy a farewell match - alongside long-time teammates Tony Popovic, Zeljko Kalac and Tony Vidmar - against Paraguay in Brisbane in 2006.