FOOTBALL Federation Australia today honoured its past by paying tribute to some of its greats.
Amongst the five people inducted into the Football Hall of Fame at a luncheon ceremony in Melbourne, were three players and two off-field contributors.
"Every sport has its greats," said FFA CEO, Ben Buckley. "That's what the Football Hall of Fame is all about - celebrating the greats of the sport on the field, and recognising sustained contribution off the field from people who have helped build the game."
The three players honoured include former Westfield Matildas captain, Cheryl Salisbury, former Qantas Socceroos captain, Paul Okon, as well as Tony Vidmar.
"Cheryl earned more caps than any other Australian player, with 151 games," said Buckley. "She has been an inspiration to many young players, particularly girls.
"Paul and Tony have been team mates together in Australian teams, had impressive careers in overseas leagues, and each had two playing stints in Australia both before and after their overseas careers.
"It is also terrific to see them both in important coaching positions now."
The non-playing inductees are journalists/administrators, Sam Vella and John Economos and Buckley added: "The five inductees have been an important part of inspiring so many others who play, or participate in a non-playing capacity, in the game and have contributed to the rich heritage of football in Australia."
In addition to naming the new inductees, FFA also announced an even higher honour in the Hall of Fame.
"2010 is set to be an exciting year for football as the Qantas Socceroos play in their second consecutive FIFA World Cup, we step up our efforts to win the right to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup and we celebrate 130 years since the first recorded football match in Australia," said Buckley.
"A ‘Football Legend' is a player who has already been honoured but who has helped shape, define and inspire the game in our country.
"Being a ‘Football Legend' will be the game's highest honour."
Members of the public are invited to nominate their suggestions for ‘Football Legends' via the footballhalloffame.com.au website. The first ‘Football Legends' will be named at FFA's 130th anniversary celebrations in August 2010.
In addition to the 2009 inductees into the Hall of Fame, FFA presented nine players with caps. The caps are awarded to every player who has played an 'A' international for Australia.
"The cap program is about celebrating the history of our code and the role all Socceroos and Matildas have played in developing the game," said Buckley.
"We are very proud of every player who has represented Australia and we thank them for their contribution to the growth of football."
Each cap includes the match details of the player's debut game, as well as their player ‘number'.
The cap programme was introduced only in recent years which is why there is still a catch-up with players of previous generations.
"Anyone who has pulled on the ‘green and gold' for their country deserves to have their achievement recognised appropriately," Buckley said.
Those presented with caps today included Vlado Bozinoski, Jim Cant, George Christopoulos, Steve Horvat, Kevin Muscat, Peter Ollerton, Jamie Paton, Ernie Tapai and Paul Trimboli.