An eight-year-old boy sits transfixed in his Melbourne loungeroom watching the Socceroos on a black and white TV as they make Australia’s first-ever World Cup appearance.
Forty years on that boy is the Socceroos coach who is determined to captivate the hearts and minds of Australians when he guides his side in football’s showpiece in Brazil next month.
Born in Greece, Ange Postecoglou and his family had been in Australia not quite four years when the Socceroos made that historic appearance in West Germany.
That 1974 squad, he says, shaped who he became, igniting his life-long obsession with football – a sport which became the main bond in his relationship with his father.
Watching the Socceroos in the middle of the night with his dad as they “took on the world”, Postecoglou was hooked.
“I love the game and it’s more than just something I was passionate about. For me it was the glue in our family in terms of my father’s relationship with me,” Postecoglou told AAP.
“Living in this country it has sometimes been hard to love the game.
“We’ve had many times where it wasn’t in great shape and it wasn’t run well and people weren’t interested at all in it.
“But ultimately that’s what drives me.
“Hopefully now we get people falling in love with it more than ever.”
Just scraping through World Cup qualifying last year before suffering successive 6-0 humiliations to Brazil and France under former coach Holger Osieck in September, that was one of those times it could be hard to love the game.
Football Federation Australia decided the German had done enough and the time was right to end an eight-year era of foreign coaches and appoint an Australian.
But as well as being home-grown, Postecoglou’s appointment had more to to do with the reputation he earned over 17 years in coaching for rebuilding teams and getting them to play in an adventurous, attacking style.
Even as a player Postecoglou says he always wanted to be a coach.
He won two NSL titles in his nine years as a defender with South Melbourne before guiding the club to another two as coach. He’s the only person to be involved in all four of the side’s titles.
His exploits with A-League club Brisbane Roar are well documented.
In all as a mentor he’s won two premierships, four championships and a continental title.
“Australia’s most successful domestic coach” is a tag Postecoglou is proud of.
He’s open about his competitive nature and his intolerance for failure.
“I love success, I love winning,” he says.
“All my career while I’ve been pretty strong on how I want teams to play and the kind of players I select. I like winning as well.
“That’s been my trademark.”
All that aside, Postecoglou has never been to a World Cup as a player, a coach or even a spectator.
The enormity of the job is not lost on him.
He says the biggest lesson he learned was during his time as Australian under-20 coach between 2000-2007 when he admits he made too many compromises, listened to too many voices.
Now he’s the one making all the calls.
In his five months as Socceroos coach his influence on the side is already clear.
The rebuilding process is well and truly underway as Postecoglou attempts to unearth the next golden generation.
And while he’s ensured he’s got the support staff he wanted he knows ultimately he’s on his own.
“At times it can be a really lonely existence,” he says.
“I know that sounds bizarre because you’re surrounded by people all the time.
“But you get to understand pretty quickly that your number one task in life is to make decisions and the focus is squarely upon you whether you get them wrong or right.”
There’ll be no bigger test of his decision making when his hand-picked, new-look Socceroos face Chile, the Netherlands and Spain in their World Cup group Brazil next month.
He hit the ground running in his job and hasn’t stopped.
“People ask me how I feel every day and I don’t have time to figure out how I feel, there’s just too much to do,” Postecoglou says.
“I’m sure once we get there and when that first game comes along the realisation will hit me.”
Then, he says, he’ll be reminded of that eight-year-old boy who watched history in the making 40 years ago as he attempts to contribute a bright new chapter.