After learning his trade as a player in the Australia National League with Canbe
After learning his trade as a player in the Australia National League with Canberra Arrows, Sydney City and Marconi FC, Socceroos coach Frank Farina was given a break in European football when he signed for Club Brugge in Belgium.
He then became the first Australian to play in Italy's Serie A with a move to Bari followed by stints with Notts County and Strasbourg and Lille in France, meanwhile earning 67 caps for the national team. A return to Australia with the Strikers saw him become player/coach in 1996 before he hung up his boots and took up the role permanently.
Farina then stepped in at old club Marconi and soon impressed Soccer Australia enough to be offered the job leading the Socceroos in their quest for World Cup qualification. However, their campaign was to end in heartbreak, knocked out by Uruguay one step from Korea and Japan.
Tonight, his side line-up against Sven's England stars and we caught up with him for a chat.
Frank Farina...in the spotlight
What would it mean for Australia to beat England this evening?
I appreciate that in terms of football nothing's really at stake in this game, but this isn't a PR exercise, we are desperate to win. England are one of the best teams in the world, so we want to measure ourselves against them. The whole of Australia is excited about this game, it will be shown live at seven o'clock in the morning back home and we want to put on a good show. I can't see England playing for a 1-0 win, so I think it will be an exciting and open game.
What do you consider to be the main dangers of this England team?
I followed their progress at the World Cup and in some of the recent qualifiers and friendlies; they appear a very solid side. On their day their attack can be one of the best in the world with Michael Owen and Emile Heskey, backed up by David Beckham and Paul Scholes. There is no doubt that they have quality all over the park, but it's whether they do it on the day.
What did you think of England's performances at the World Cup?
They came through a very tough group, but then found it difficult against Brazil, and were probably outclassed in the quarter-finals. They couldn't really step up to the next level and I think they went as far as they could.
You must have been really disappointed when Australia failed to qualify for the last World Cup...
It was a terrible feeling, absolutely terrible. Qualifying for the World Cup has become a national obsession in Australia. We have failed at the final hurdle so many times and we're desperate to get there. It's been difficult for us because we do very little in between World Cup qualifying campaigns, so it's almost an impossible task. I firmly believe that you could have sent any team out to play Uruguay in Montevideo and they would have found it as difficult as we did. We didn't play as well as we should have done on that day.
You'll obviously be delighted at FIFA now giving Oceania direct entry to the next World Cup...
Of course, because it brings us into line with the other confederations and we absolutely deserve it, not just Down Under, but in the whole region of Oceania. The FIFA slogan is 'For the Good of the Game', and that's exactly what this is. Some people say it gives Australia a guaranteed place every four years and, while that might be likely initially, it wouldn't always be the case as the region grew stronger and stronger.
How do you think Australia are viewed on the international stage?
Well, take tonight, to be asked to play England in England shows the progress we've made. They don't agree to play everyone. We have a lot of players in the major European Leagues, which means we are taken a lot more seriously these days. We are a good side and I hope we prove that tonight.
You can read the complete interview with Frank Farina in tonight's match programme available at Upton Park before the game and also from selected Evening Standard sellers in London.