‘A giant of Australian football’: Sporting world mourns the loss of Rale Rasic

Jun 09, 2023
Rasic guided the Socceroos through the 1974 rounds, leading them to their first-ever appearance in the FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany. Source: Getty Images.

The sporting world is in a state of mourning today following the passing of football icon Rale Rasic at the age of 87 on Thursday, June 8.

Born December 29, 1935,  Rasic’s football journey began when he was chosen to play for the Yugoslavia Youth team at the age of 17. He later studied Physical Education at Belgrade University, which provided him with a solid foundation for his future sporting endeavours.

In 1962, Rasic came to Australia and joined Melbourne JUST. He played a crucial role in securing victory at the State League championship and Dockerty Cup. He represented Victoria nine times before retiring from the game in 1966.

After stepping off the pitch Rasic began his coaching career, securing victory in the Victorian State League championship and a national Under-16 title. He became the coach for the Socceroos in 1970 at the age of 34. Under his guidance, the Socceroos would go on to enjoy an impressive 12-match unbeaten streak during their 1972 world tour.

Rasic guided the Socceroos through the 1974 rounds, leading them to their first-ever appearance in the FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany.

Rasic’s contributions to the game were recognised with the Australian Sports Medal and the Centenary Medal in 2001. He was also honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his achievements as a player, coach, and administrator in 2004.

Football Australia Chairman, Chris Nikou was among the first to offer his condolences over the passing of Rasic, reflecting on his massive impact on the sport.

“Today, we mourn the passing of a giant of Australian football in Rale Rasic,” Nikou said.

“His dedication to representing Australia and his remarkable achievements as a player, coach, and administrator will forever be etched in our nation’s football history. Rale’s influence extended beyond the game, shaping the careers of numerous players, and leaving an indelible mark on the sport he loved.”

Current Socceroos’ head coach Graham Arnold also paid tribute to Rasic, stating that his passing is “devastating”.

“Rale changed the game in Australia in 1974, qualifying Australia for the first World Cup ever,” Arnold said.

“The amount of passion and love that Rale had for football has never drifted too far away from myself and he has been a great inspiration for me over the years.

“I never had the privilege of playing underneath him, but I have no doubt there are a lot of guys that played under him that would be devastated today to hear this news.”

In a testament to his extraordinary impact on the sport, a deluge of heartfelt tributes followed news of Rasic’s passing.

Rasic is survived by his partner Debra and daughter Daniella.


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