Long before he became a national hero in Tuesday morning's tense penalty shootout, Andrew Redmayne was a tall teenager with plenty of promise.
It were those attributes that saw Steve O'Connor, former head of the football program at the Australian Institute of Sport, hand the then 17-year-old a scholarship.
Sixteen years later and Redmayne has sent the Socceroos to their fifth-straight World Cup, the goalkeeper producing in the clutch save to secure his side victory over Peru in a penalty shootout.
The performance came as no surprise to O'Connor, the experienced coach helping lay the foundation for Tuesday's magical performance throughout the mid-2000s.
"Andrew had a lot of potential," O'Connor said. "He was fairly tall and lanky when he was younger, we were looking for that sort of build in a goalkeeper but there are no guarantees with junior players.
"He worked hard, he chipped away and we tried to improve him. He worked pretty closely with Paul Jones, the goalkeepers coach, they did a lot of individual work together.
"I wasn't surprised by his performance (on Tuesday). That was the aim of the whole program, to develop players for the national team. That was our major aim, to improve them in their technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects of the game."
Australia's path to the World Cup was a treacherous one, the side forced to win two sudden-death contests to qualify for the 32-team tournament.
The process was also made tougher due to COVID, the Socceroos playing 16 out of 20 matches on the road.
Few gave the side a chance heading into the clash with Peru, the 22nd ranked team in the world, and Western United veteran Nikolai Topor-Stanley said the magnitude of the achievement cannot be understated.
"It's a huge moment," the Canberra talent said. "We should be celebrating this as a nation. I don't think the Australian public understands the gravity of what we've done. There's a sense it's a given we'll breeze through in Asia and make it, it's not the case.
"It's the biggest sporting event in the world. For us to qualify the way we did, there's no easy way to qualify for the World Cup, but we went through the ringer with extra games, to do it the way we did, in penalties and recreate a historic moment from 2005, it's huge for the sport in Australia."
With World Cup qualification secure, the focus now turns to ensuring the team delivers in November in Qatar and Australian football grows from this experience.
World Cup qualification is never an easy process, however many believe more can be done to ensure consistent results from the Socceroos.
The pathways system is under the spotlight, after the AIS program that saw O'Connor produce the likes of Luke Wilkshire, Lucas Neill and John Aloisi was disbanded and development responsibilities handed to A-League clubs.
For Wilkshire, who played alongside Redmayne at Sydney FC and is the new head of youth development at the Central Coast Mariners, the clubs must work with Football Australia to ensure the national teams are best placed to succeed across all ages and competitions.
"Nothing is ever guaranteed in football, that's the beauty of it," Wilkshire said. "You have to keep improving, you have to still be identifying players, pathways, funding our national teams, to be able to give them the best chance.
"In our youth system, we need to develop better players. We've got players playing in Europe, but are they playing in the top leagues? No they're not. When we start to do that, the national team will be stronger.
"I've said it before, the AIS program was important, when you look at the generation of players who came through there. They were living and breathing football from a young age.
"I'll be looking to do something like that at the Mariners."
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