Socceroos legend, World Cup star dies

1974 : Australia's 1974 World Cup Socceroos squad in team photo in Berlin for finals in West Germany. Soccer.
Manfred Schaefer (back row, fifth from left) was part of the Socceroos’ 1974 World Cup squad. Picture: Supplied

The Australian football community is mourning the loss of Socceroos great Manfred Schaefer, who has died aged 80.

Schaefer, who migrated to Australia from the then East Germany at the age of 10, was a member of the Socceroos squad at the 1974 World Cup, taking time off from his job as a milkman to take part in the tournament in the then West Germany.

The former defender made 73 appearances for Australia between 1967 and 1974, with 49 of then coming in “A” internationals.

In 1999, he was inducted into Football Australia’s Hall of Fame for his services to the sport.

FA chairman Chris Nikou described Schaefer, who played his club football for Blacktown and St George-Budapest, as a “giant of Australian football”.

“While not born in Australia, Manfred gave everything to Australia, representing the country both on and off the field with the greatest of distinction,” Nikou said in a statement.

“Even after retiring as a player, Manfred influenced the careers of so many of the nation’s finest players through his technical brilliance and strong managerial skills for almost three decades.

“Manfred loved all levels of Australian football and would regularly be found supporting the sport, whether at grassroots, NPL, Australia Cup or national team level, where his presence will now be sorely missed but always felt.

“On behalf of Football Australia and the Australian football community, I send my deepest condolences to the Schaefer family, his friends, and former teammates at this sad time. Manfred Schaefer, forever cap 198.”

Following his retirement as a player in 1975, Schaefer had coaching stints with St George, Sydney Olympic, Brunswick-Juventus, APIA Leichhardt, Sydney Croatia, Marconi, Adelaide Sharks and Parramatta Power.