Manfred Shaefer, friend of Pelé and hero of the 1974 Socceroos World Cup team, mourned by Australian football community

Legendary football pioneer Manfred Schaefer, who helped establish the code as a national sport in Australia, has passed away at the age of 80. His death has sent shockwaves throughout the football community, with many paying tribute to the man who played a crucial role in creating World Cup history in 1974. Schaefer was born in Germany in 1943 and moved to Australia in 1954, where he began playing for St George-Budapest in Sydney. He took up a job as a milkman, with his regular runs contributing to the defender’s extraordinary strength and endurance.

Schaefer’s crowning achievement came in 1974 when he was part of the Socceroos team that qualified for the World Cup for the first time. He played a pivotal role in the historic victory over South Korea, securing Australia’s place in the tournament. Schaefer’s contribution to Australian football did not end with the 1974 World Cup. He played a pivotal role in coaching and mentoring young players, and developing the game in Australia, serving as a mentor to up-and-coming coaches.

Despite his achievements on the field, Schaefer remained humble and dedicated to his community. He worked as a milkman for over 30 years, and was known for his friendly nature and willingness to help others. Schaefer’s legacy extends beyond Australian football. He was a close friend of Brazilian football legend, Pelé, who described Schaefer as ‘a great player and a great friend.’ Schaefer’s passing has resulted in an outpouring of tributes on social media, with many fans and former players paying their respects to the football legend.

Schaefer’s funeral is expected to be held later this week, with members of the football community due to attend. He was the inaugural inductee into the Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame, and Schaefer Terrace in the Sydney suburb of Glenwood is named after him. Manfred Schaefer will always be remembered for his contributions to Australian football, and the way he lived his life as an extraordinary man, both on and off the field.

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