Rale Rasic has a unique position in Australian soccer having been the first coach to take Australia to the finals of the World Cup in West Germany 1974. Rasic coached Australia in 58 international matches from 1970 to 1974.
Rasic immigrated to Australia in 1962, but returned to Yugoslavia after 18 months to serve in the army. His obligations met, Rasic returned to Australia, and played football in the Victorian league. He revolutionised the game in Australia, was appointed national coach in 1970 at just 26 years of age, masterminded Australia’s qualification and participation at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
After a disappointing performance at the World Cup, the Australian Soccer Federation dumped him as national coach, replacing him with Englishman Brian Green (who later fled the country after he was caught shoplifting). Rasic believes that he was dumped because he was not seen as being a real “Aussie”. Rasic stated, “They took from me something that I was doing better than anyone else. I was a true-blue Aussie and nobody can deny that. I taught the players how to sing the national anthem”. These days, as the first coach to take Australia to the World Cup finals, Rasic is widely respected in Australian football.
A massive lobby for Rasic to return as Australia’s World Cup coach for 1979 began early in 1978 but never eventuated because Rasic made crystal clear his terms: complete and utter control and absolutely no interference from the Australian Soccer Federation. The ASF would never give a coach the job under those circumstances and conditions.
Rasic’s first coaching job was in Footscray followed by Melbourne HSC, St. George Budapest, Marconi, and Pan Hellenic. In 1967 he coached Footscray to the Victorian championship and from 1968 to 1970 he was the Victorian senior state coach. In 1970 he coached the Victorian youth team to win the national championships and in 1971 coached St. George to win the NSW grand final and Tokyo International Tournament. He coached Marconi to the Australian championships in 1972 and to the NSW grand final in 1973. In 1979 he coached Adelaide to win the NSL Cup final. From 1986 to 1988 his teams won the national championships and the NSL Cup final.
In 1974 Rasic was listed among the top 35 coaches in the world by German Soccer expert Fritz Hack, and in 1977 and 1987 he was voted the national league coach of the year. He was a television presenter on SBS, during the Australian network’s 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage.
In 2004 Rasic was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to soccer as a player, coach and administrator.