National Hall of Fame salutes four newcomers
MATILDAS star Leigh Wardell, Socceroos great Harry Kewell, former NSL Championship winning coach Branko Culina and former FFA Chairman Sir Frank Lowy are the latest inductees into the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Hall of Fame.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou made the announcement during the annual Dolan Warren Awards which were held at The Star Event Centre in Sydney on May 13.
Nikou said that the four inductees this year are extremely worthy recipients of the honour.
“It has been 20 years since we announced our first group of inductees into the FFA Hall of Fame and since then 242 outstanding individuals have been recognised for their significant contributions to football in Australia. Tonight, we add another four remarkable people to that group,” Nikou said.
“Leigh Wardell was a starting player in the first official Matildas team that faced New Zealand in 1979 and has then excelled in the coaching world after a stellar career as a player. We have seen the impact the Matildas have made over the past 40 years and we owe a great deal of gratitude to these women who laid the foundations for our stars of today.
“Harry Kewell (pictured) is considered as one of the greatest Socceroos to ever represent Australia. We remember when a 19-year-old burst on the international scene against Iran in that crucial FIFA World Cup Qualifier in 1997, we knew we were seeing something special.
“He went on to represent his country with great distinction and was a hero to millions of young Aussies who watched him play at some of the biggest clubs in the world.
“Branko Culina is a championship winning coach from the NSL who also coached in the Hyundai A-League. His dedication to our game spans decades, he was a mentor to thousands of young men at youth and senior levels one of the most decorated coaches we have seen in recent times.
“Sir Frank Lowy is a true legend of the game. Under his leadership of Football Federation Australia, Australia qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and subsequent tournaments, including a win of the AFC Asian Cup on home soil in 2015.
“He reinvigorated Australian football with the launch of the Hyundai A-League professionalising football in Australia, building the foundations for the next stage of growth. We will be forever grateful for his passion, dedication and contribution to our game.
The last West Australian to be inducted into the national Hall of Fame was Sandra Brentnall in 2014. Sandra was an inaugural inductee into the Football Hall of Fame WA in 1996 and is a member of the Hall of Legends.