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Wilson beats Sparwasser, Australia vs. East Germany 1974


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"It is an honour and a pleasure to play for Australia and there is no greater Honour than being Captain of your Country",   Peter Wilson

vs. English FA, 1971, first time Captain of AustraliaIn 1971, coach Rale Rasic named Peter Wilson as the new Captain of the Australian National Soccer Team. Even today, Rasic calls that decision one of the best he ever made in his long coaching career. In the test match between an Australian Eleven and an English FA Selection on the 13 June 1971, Wilson wears the Captain’s armband for the first time. His first official A International game as Captain followed shortly after, against Israel, in November.

Johnny Warren, who was the Captain before, was injured in a Club game with St.George. He was out of the game for a long time, but when he came back, the players and the coach made the decision to keep Wilson on as the Team Captain. Warren was named the Vice-Captain, but was not happy with that decision.

New South Wales vs. Dundee, 1972In his 64 A-International games for the Socceroos, Peter Wilson was National Team Captain for 60. That's also a kind of record on International level. Of course, the German Lothar Mathaeus was Captain 76 times, but he played 150 games for his country, more than twice as many as Wilson did.

The great Italian Football idol Giacinto Faccetti was Leader of the Squadra Azzuri on 70 occasions, but he played 94 Internationals.

But who in Australia knows that Peter Wilson was Captain of his country more times than some other great Soccer World Stars were of theirs - like the German Franz Beckenbauer, Polish star Kazimerz Deyna, or Argentine heroes Diego Maradona or Daniel Passarella?

aking the proportion of caps as Captain, Peter Wilson’s record is not surpassed in World football, as the following table shows:

Franz Beckenbauer and Wilson, World Cup 1974 in Germany 

Name Country Games as Captain %
Peter Wilson (Australia 1970-79) 65 61 94%
Bill Wright (England 1946-59) 104 90 87%
Bobby Moore  (England 1962-73) 107  90 84%
Giacinto Facchetti (Italy 1963-77) 94 70 74%
Johann Cruijff (Holland 1966-77) 48 33 69%
Daniel Passarella (Argentina 1976-86) 69 45 65%
Maradona (Argentina 1977-94) 91 57 63%
Dragan Dzajic (Jugoslawia 1964-79) 85 53 62%
Anton Ondrus (CSSR 1974-80) 58 36 62%
Kazimerz Deyna (Poland 1968-78) 102 59 58%
Lothar Matthaeus (Germany 1980-00) 150 76 51%
Beckenbauer (Germany 1965-77) 103 50 49%
Tibor Nyilasi (Hungary 1975-85) 70 32 46%
Andoni Zubizarreta (Spain 1985-98) 122 53 43%

Bernd Bransch, East Germany, World Cup 1974 

Australia vs. South Korea, 1977 in SydneyIn exactly 115 official games for his country - including non-A internationals, Peter Wilson wears the Captain’s armband 98 times. He also played a lot of Test matches against Australian State Selections, but they are not listed in this statistic.

Wilson also captained his club sides South Coast United, Western Suburbs, and APIA Leichhardt, with great success. He led his clubs to the wins in the Ampol Cup and also in the Philips Cup, the official Australian Cup Championship.

Peter Wilson was also the Captain of the New South Wales Selection, which he played for on 13 occasions. But his biggest achievement was in 1974, when he reached the Football World Cup Finals in Germany with the Socceroos.

It was the first time the fifth continent was represented in this gigantic contest, and he led his country in the biggest of football battles. Peter Wilson exchanged the international pennants with the Captain of East Germany - Bernd Bransch, West Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, and Chile’s Francisco Valdes.

Australia vv. Hong Kong, 1977 in AdelaideIn the qualification process for the following World Cup to be held in Argentina, Wilson was still the captain, however, Australia failed to qualify, being defeated by Iran which took its place instead.

No player has been Australia's Captain more times. After Wilson comes Paul Wade who was captain 46 times, then Alex Tobin (31), Charlie Yankos (30), John Kosmina (25) and Johnny Warren (24).

In negotiations for his team with the management, Wilson was considered persistent and unyieldingly.

Even today his team-mates and coaches of those years praise his application. Still, off the field, he is modest and restrained, even shy.

Australia vs. USSR, 1975But Wilson was the worst public speaker. He would easily be embarrassed. He would grab the microphone, put it in his pocket and pretend to mime. This was his way of showing the people in front of him that he cannot answer their questions any more.

He also had a favourite joke, which he used many times at post-match press conferences: when asked for a few last words, he would say, "I would like to thank the inventor of the Venetian blind, because without him it would be curtains for all of us."