England, starting with Sol Campbell, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, Gary Neville and captained by David Beckham, were 2-0 down at the break despite predictions England would rack up a cricket score without breaking a sweat.
But it was Australia who broke English hearts in a devastating first 45 minutes.
A powerful header from then Crystal Palace defender Tony Popovic (now a very successful coach with Western Sydney Wanderers) and some individual brilliance from Leeds United’s Harry Kewell had the English on the ropes by the break.
The large Aussie contingent was loving it as Frank Farina’s men made a mockery of their more illustrious opponents, who for some strange reason played in their away kit of red shirts.
England manager Sven Goran Eriksson made 11 changes to the Three Lions at the break, giving a host of young players a run (later dubbed “The Young Lions”) in the second half.
Wayne Rooney, Francis Jeffers (who later played for Aussie club Newcastle Jets) and Jermaine Jenas were some of the changes.
And despite Jeffers living up to his nickname of “The Fox in the Box” grabbing a 69th minute goal, Australia’s Brett Emerton made it 3-1 with a neat finish to finish off the English.
The tabloids were merciless the next day with one headline next to a picture of Beckham reading: “Kanga Poo! England dumped on by Aussies”. Another read: “Shockeroo”
For Socceroo fans, that night was the beginning of a very successful era with that “Golden Generation” of national team players going on to qualify for the next two World Cups.
Australia also qualified for the 2014 Brazil World Cup and is on track to qualify for Russia 2018.
Did you know?
Aussie sub on the night, Kevin Muscat, is now set to face Sven Goran-Eriksson as a coach in the AFC Champions League when his Melbourne Victory face Sven’s cashed up Shanghai SIPG.
Football Federation Australia