Why are they called the Socceroos?

There are lots of different international teams who have a nickname, but there might not be a better nickname for a football team than the Socceroos. 

Why are they called the Socceroos? The term Socceroos was first used to describe the Australian men’s national football team in 1967 and is meant to be a combination of soccer and Kangaroos, a well-known animal that lives in Australia. 

The term Socceroos is actually pretty simple when you think about it. Sydney journalist Tony Horstead decided to combine the two words Soccer and Kangaroos to form the Socceroos which is the nickname that the Australian men’s football team has been known as since 1967. 

Kangaroos are a symbol of Australia and the term soccer is used to describe football in the country as most Australians consider Aussie Rules to be the football of the country. Therefore the two words were combined and formed the Socceroos. 

The nickname has become popular with Australians, as the national women’s hockey team is known as the Hockeyroos. What is interesting about the formulation of the term Socceroos is that it came about during the team’s 1967 tour of Vietnam, which was happening during the Vietnam war. 

The name became so popular that the national team icon for the 1974 World Cup qualifying campaign was a Kangaroo balancing a football on its boot, with the word Socceroo below. The nickname has stuck with the team since and is still used frequently today. 

Is it called soccer or football in Australia? 

The use of the two terms soccer and football to describe the same sport can be pretty confusing. Most people solely associate the use of soccer to the USA where their top division is known as Major League Soccer. Pretty much everywhere else in the world describes the sport as football, however, Australia is an exception. 

What a European person knows as football, an Australian would call soccer. This is because the Australian term for football refers to Australian Rule football, which is the most popular sport in the country. Therefore, Australian fans have decided to call the sport most known as football as soccer instead. 

Not Soccer

Who is the Socceroos captain? 

The current captain of the Australian team is goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Born in Plumpton in New South Wales, he came up through the ranks with the Marconi Stallions and then the Blacktown City. Ryan’s time with the Central Coast Mariners is what got him international and European attention. 

Ryan made his international debut in 2012 and became the team’s first-choice keeper pretty quickly. Domestically, Ryan has moved around a lot. He had a two-year spell with Club Brugge where he won the Belgian Cup. His two-year spell with Valencia did not bring a huge amount of success. 

But Brighton saw Ryan as an excellent keeper and he was the team’s starter for four straight years in the Premier League, appearing over 100 times for the club. After short spells with Arsenal and Real Sociedad, Ryan is now with Copenhagen. 

Despite all of this movement domestically, Ryan has been a certainty for the Australian team for almost a decade. At the time of writing, he has 78 caps for his country and will be making his way up the ranks of the top 10 most-capped Australian players of all time very soon. 

Ryan first became captain of his country in October 2019 when he was captain as Australia beat China 7-1. He is still the team’s starter for this World Cup as well as the team’s captain. 

Who is the Socceroos coach? 

Graham Arnold is the current manager of the Socceroos. He is a legend of Australian football, having been involved in the game in Australia for the last 40 years. Graham Arnold began with a successful playing career mainly with Sydney United. 

After spells in Europe, Graham began his management career with Northern Spirit, although his first managerial job was during his career. He was a player/coach for two games at Sydney Croatia during the 1989/90 season. 

Arnold began his work with the national team in 2000 when he was the assistant manager to Frank Farina and Guus Hiddink. He was the man who stepped up to become the caretaker manager when Hiddink stepped down after the World Cup. 

His work with the team was not hugely successful so Arnold became Australia’s U23 head coach in 2007 but just for one season before being the assistant to Pim Verbeek for three years. Arnold then moved back to domestic football with spells as the head coach for Central Coast Mariners, Vegalta Sendai and Sydney FC. 

It was a very successful return to domestic competitions, winning three A-League championships with two different teams as well as being named A-League Coach of the Year three times. This earned him a return to the head coach role of the Australian team. 

Arnold has been the head coach of the team since 2018 and he was crucial to leading the Socceroos through the group stage of the 2022 World Cup. 

Who is the Socceroos best player? 

It is difficult to say exactly who is the best player for the Australian national team because this is not the same team spurred on by the efforts of Tim Cahill. This side has quite a few good players. Captain Mathew Ryan is a very good player and some fans consider him the team’s best. 

Harry Souttar is a rock at the back who has impressed at the 2022 World Cup. The 24-year-old has also scored six goals in his 16 appearances to date which is very impressive for a young centre-back. Mathew Leckie is the team’s star striker, a quick and agile forward who had successful spells in Europe. 

Aaron Mooy has been the key to Australia’s midfield for the last few years. He is a good central midfielder who is key to Australia’s progression. Mooy is likely the team’s most important player as the midfield would struggle to perform without him. 


I started watching football in the early 90s and was hooked. I fell in love with Chelsea and have supported them ever since. I have also written a book on Corporate Governance and Firm Performance in England and Scottish football.

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