Socceroos great Mark Milligan has informed Football Federation Australia (FFA) of his decision to retire from international football.
Milligan, who was a member of Australia’s last four FIFA World Cup squads, informed Socceroos teammates and staff of his decision on Monday morning (AEDT) and concludes his time with the Socceroos having amassed an impressive 80 ‘A’ international caps for his country.
The first of Milligan’s 80 matches at senior level for Australia came against Liechtenstein in June 2006 in a friendly fixture ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, with his final game coming on home soil in Australia’s 5-0 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification victory over Nepal in Canberra in October 2019.
Milligan, who also represented Australia prolifically at youth level (including as captain at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing), became the 56th player to captain the Socceroos in July 2013 when he led the side against the Korea Republic in Seoul.
Milligan went on to captain Australia a total of nineteen (19) times, including leading the team in several crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers, at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, as well as at this year’s AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
“It has been a privilege to be involved with the Socceroos over the last fourteen-odd years,” Milligan said. “To be able to represent my country over that time is above and beyond anything I could have dreamed of.”
“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing – it was always going to be difficult to try and break into a squad full of Australian superstars. But I was given a chance, and just to be involved with players from Australia’s golden generation and learn my trade from them was an absolute gift that I will be forever grateful for.
“I was lucky to work under some wonderful coaches in my international career. Thank you to Guus Hiddink for first bringing me into the Socceroos’ set-up, and the late Pim Verbeek for keeping my dream alive. Thank you to Holger Osieck for handing me the captain’s armband for the first time.
“A special thank you to Ange Postecoglou who showed great faith in me and gave me my first start at a World Cup, and a chance to play in the Asian Cup Final. Ange taught me so much both in club and international football.
“Thank you to Bert van Marwijk and Mark van Bommel who put a lot of trust in me over the short time that they were in charge, and thank you to Graham Arnold who had a massive hand in me being called into the national set-up way back when and named me captain over the last year. Being able to lead this team as captain over that time has been an absolute honour and something I will treasure forever.
“I wish the boys the best of luck going forward, knowing with Arnie (Graham Arnold) in charge and a wonderful leadership group in place that the future is bright. There are exciting times ahead and I look forward to supporting the team along with the rest of the country,” he concluded.
Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold said Milligan’s national team record places him among the very best players to have worn the green and gold.
“I am so proud of Mark and the career that he has had,” Arnold said. “Mark’s commitment and desire for Australian football is up there with the best and I feel privileged to have been involved with him at the start and end of his international career.”
“Not many players can claim to have represented Australia at four World Cups, three Asian Cups, a Confederations Cup, as well as an Olympic Games. When you add in his tremendous club career, which includes two Hyundai A-League Championships, a Premiership, and a Joe Marston Medal, it is clear that Mark’s contribution to Australian football over a long period has been significant.”
FFA Chair, Mr Chris Nikou, thanked Milligan for his service to the Socceroos and Australian football over a long period.
“Mark’s contribution not only to the Socceroos but football in Australia generally over the past two decades has been immense,” Nikou said. “Mark’s leadership qualities combined with his genuine passion to achieve success and help the game to grow has always been evident.
“We (FFA) will seek to remain in close contact with Mark Milligan over the coming years as his knowledge, experience, and love for the game should not be lost to Australian football.”
Mark Milligan – International Career Highlights
- Debut: June 2006 v Liechtenstein (Ulm, Germany)
- ‘A’ International Caps (Goals): 80 (6) – equal eighth most Socceroos caps of all time
- FIFA World Cups: 2006 (Germany), 2010 (South Africa), 2014 (Brazil), 2018 (Russia)
- AFC Asian Cups: 2007 (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia), 2015* (Australia), 2019 (United Arab Emirates)
- FIFA Confederations Cup: 2017 (Russia)
- Olympic Games: 2008 (Beijing, China)
- FIFA U-20 World Cup: 2005 (Netherlands)
*AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Champion