Rale Rasic is a well-known figure to all football fans across the country for his achievements during the 70’s and the 80’s when he coached quite a few clubs throughout Australia.
The greatest among all those accomplishments was undoubtedly when he was appointed manager of the Socceroos at the age of 34, helping them reach the World Cup of 1974 for the first time in their history.
Having made his own journey in the football world during those times, with many games against great national teams (including Greece), the Bosnian former manager has made quite a collection of historical items items and he told Neos Kosmos about his idea to create a museum of football history where they can be displayed for the next generations of football fans.
“I have connections with many countries. Greece, Germany, Brazil… I have connections with Pele, Mario Zagallo, Diego Maradona, whatever you can imagine,” the former manager said.
This idea may have been Rasic’s brain-child yet, according to the 84-year-old, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere if it weren’t for the great TV producer Harry Michaels.
“I’ve never met anyone quite like him. We associated for many years on television and there’s a lot of mutual respect between us. I called him up one day to suggest some ideas, one of which was to create a film, but the museum was the one that won him over. Ever since then, Harry’s been like a man on a mission to see this come to fruition.”
Rasic’s inspiration was brought even closer to life by the formation of a committee, which then took the suggestion to Football Federation of Australia chairman Chris Nikou.
That’s when the idea was discussed to have the museum created inside the FFA headquarters.
“No country in the world has that. In Germany, the headquarters are in Frankfurt and the museum is in Dortmund. In Brazil, there’s one (museum) in Rio (De Janeiro), another in Sao Paulo, and a few more here and there. But no one has everything in one place. That’s why we wanted to create the home of football,” he said
“So that every football enthusiast that visits our country has a chance to visit the Federation offices and the president can say ‘this is the history of our game’.”
As we move forward with our conversation, Rasic goes back in time to recall some of the most important moments both in his own personal career, but also in the development of the sport in the nation.
“Football came back to Australia in 1963 after the initiative of the great Theo Marmaras, who was a very smart Greek person. He went to FIFA, took responsibility for all the mistakes that had been made up to that point and that’s when all the greats started coming into the country like Nestoridis, Labropoulos, Margaritis, etc.”
He also talked about an incident that stayed with him throughout this whole time, just before the game against Greece in the Socceroos’ international tour just before the World Cup of 1974.
“After our game in Iran, we went to Athens to play against the Greek national team. I really hit the players hard then, I had them training one day before the match. And the great Ferens Puskas that came to watch us turns to the trainer and asks him ‘Is he mad? Why on earth is he training them so hard just before the game?” But we came out the next day and we beat them 1-3. And we’re talking about a team that had Domazos, Ikonomopoulos, Papaioannou, all those greats!”
The many objects that Rasic has managed to collect are not just his own. Many other people have tried to pitch in after hearing about the venture.
“Since people heard about what I’m trying to do, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from others who want to contribute. People brought jackets from the world cup, others called to share stories. Our game is so enriched,” Rasic said.
Though the highly experienced former football star’s dream to one day see this museum come to fruition may be a bit far from reality, it is certainly a goal worth striving for.