COL Curran remembers the 1974 World Cup “like it was yesterday”.
The rush he felt when selected. Anticipation. Nerves. Pride. The thrill of competing against the best.
“It has been a long time since I went to the World Cup but I still remember the feeling,” Curran told the Herald. “Back then only 16 teams qualified. We were minnows and were never expected to get there.”
The Socceroos travelled to West Germany where they took on the hosts, East Germany and Chile.
They went down to the German sides and drew nil-nil with Chile. West Germany, led by Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, went on to win the tournament, beating Holland in a famous final.
“We did ourselves justice in Germany," said Curan, a left back who played 32 times for the Socceroos over 11 years.
Until this week, Curran, who was playing for Sydney club Western Suburbs in 74, had been the only player from this proud football region to feature at a World Cup. Ray Baartz would have joined him in West Germany but suffered a career-ending injury when struck in the throat during a friendly against Uruguay.
Jets midfielder Dimi Petratos, who is from Sydney but was selected from Newcastle, has doubled the representation. He and former Jets teammate Andrew Nabbout are part of the Socceroos squad which kicks off their campaign in Russia against France on Saturday.
“I think the Jets boys will feel the same as we did,” Curran said. “They will have nerves in their stomach, excitement … for a footballer it is the ultimate. I’ll never forget the game against West Germany. They were so professional and brilliant at playing football. They always had options, they always had three or four men around the ball.”
The current crop have an equally tough task, facing a star-studded France, followed by Denmark (July 21) and Peru (July 27).
“France are a very good side, they could win the World Cup,” Curran said. “The [Socceroos] nerves will be astronomical but they will handle it. They are not miners or backers or butchers or anything like that. They are full-time professional footballers earning very good money. They are best at their jobs. It will be hard to break France down, but things can happen in football. The coach is experienced and will have explained to them what to expect.They will take the underdog tag like Australia always does. I think they will put up a good show.”
Curran, whose first club was Adamstown, played another five years for the Socceroos.
“I came back with more confidence,” Curran said. “The current players will come back better players once they have experienced the world stage. A lot of them could make the next one and they will strive for that.”