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FIFA World Cup countdown: Top 10 Australian players of all time

As part of the countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Sports Mole looks at the top 10 players in the history of Australia.

Following a brief outing in 1974, Australia have participated in the last two World Cups and will be involved once again in Brazil this summer.

While their presence among the final 32 is often viewed as an achievement in itself, they advanced beyond the group stages in 2006 at the expense of Croatia as a result of a dramatic 2-2 draw between the two nations.

The success of the national side has resulted in the sport becoming more popular Down Under, with players moving to some of Europe's biggest clubs and leagues.

Here, to continue Sports Mole's countdown to the World Cup, we take a look at the top 10 Australian footballers of all time.

10. Reg Date (1947, eight caps, nine goals)

While the figure is up for debate, it is claimed that Date scored 664 goals in all competitions between 1937 and 1954. The powerful centre-forward backed that up by hitting nine in his eight outings for his country.

His omission from the tour of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa caused uproar, largely because in the days leading up to the trip he had scored six times in one game for New South Wales.

Rumour has it that he was once courted by Glasgow Rangers, but the move never materialised.

9. Robbie Kruse (2011-present, 28 caps, three goals)

There is every chance that in a few years' time, Kruse will be higher up this list. At the age of 25, there is plenty of time for the Bayer Leverkusen attacker to have a significant impact on the Socceroos and European football.

The Brisbane-born star is likely to be remembered by Wales fans, having scored in a friendly clash against them at the Cardiff City Stadium back in 2011.

Sadly, he is a major doubt to feature in Brazil because of a cruciate ligament injury that he sustained in January.

Robbie Kruse in action for Australia on November 19, 2013.© Getty Images

8. Johnny Warren (1965-1974, 42 caps, six goals)

The former midfielder is known by many as 'Captain Socceroo' for the work that he does to promote football in Australia.

As a player, Warren was viewed as a leader and as a result he captained his country on 24 occasions. He was also part of the squad that qualified for the World Cup in 1974 - the first time that Australia had played at that level.

7. John Aloisi (1997-2008, 55 caps, 27 goals)

Having played for 12 different clubs in a host of different countries, Aloisi retired in 2011 as a striker of vast experience.

While he may not have been as technically gifted as others in this selection, he was clinical and worked hard for his team.

The former Coventry City and Portsmouth frontman scored a total of 27 goals for Australia, including six in a World Cup qualifier against Tonga.

John Aloisi celebrates scoring for Australia on June 24, 2001.© Getty Images

6. Brett Emerton (1998-2012, 95 caps, 20 goals)

Ever-reliable, Emerton was a constant figure in the Australia squad following his first call-up in 1998. Having started his career with Sydney Olympic, the winger moved to Europe with Feyenoord, before settling in England with Blackburn Rovers.

He spent eight years at Ewood Park, during which time he became a favourite among the Blackburn supporters for a combination of his workrate and ability.

The 35-year-old featured in all of Australia's group games at the 2006 World Cup, but missed the second-round match with Italy through suspension.

Brett Emerton in action for Australia on June 02, 2007.© Getty Images

5. Mark Bresciano (2001-present, 73 caps, 13 goals)

Having played for the likes of Parma, Palermo and Lazio in Serie A, during his prime years Bresciano was a highly thought of midfielder.

Although never prolific, the Melbourne-born player scored a number of important goals - for club and country.

There were doubts last year as to whether he would be permitted to feature in Brazil over the manner in which he transferred to Al-Gharafa from Al Nasr, but in January he was cleared by FIFA to represent his country, selection permitting.

Mark Bresciano in action for Australia against Italy on June 26, 2006.© Getty Images

4. Lucas Neill (1996-present, 96 caps, one goal)

Having started his professional career with Millwall, the current Doncaster Rovers defender moved on to Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United, Everton and Galatasaray, before a stint in the Middle East.

The versatile 36-year-old has earned himself a reputation as a no-nonsense, tough tackling player who possessed the necessary passion to captain his country with such distinction.

It took 91 appearances, but Neill finally scored his first goal for Australia during a World Cup qualifier against Jordan in 2013.

Australia's captain Lucas Neill listens to the national anthem prior to the football friendly against Costa Rica on November 19, 2013© Getty Images

3. Mark Schwarzer (1993-2013, 109 caps, no goals)

The 41-year-old's longevity is something to admire and with Petr Cech injured, the veteran goalkeeper could go on to play a key role in Chelsea's quest for Premier League and Champions League success this season.

Having earlier spent 11 years between the posts for Middlesbrough, Schwarzer is the longest-serving foreigner at one Premier League club. He also turned out for Boro in the UEFA Cup final, although they were defeated by Sevilla.

As for his international career, he made his debut during a World Cup qualifier against Canada in 1994 and went on to save two penalties. He then repeated that trick in 2005 against Uruguay to seal his nation's spot in Germany the following year. No player has represented Australia more times than Schwarzer.

Mark Schwarzer saves a penalty for Australia on November 16, 2005.© Getty Images

2. Harry Kewell (1996-2012, 56 caps, 17 goals)

Surprisingly, Kewell has copped for some criticism from Australian supporters down the years. His commitment has been questioned, but if he hadn't been hampered by injuries, the winger would surely have featured for the Socceroos on a more regular basis.

He really shone at Leeds United, which earned him the move to Liverpool. That is where the injuries started to take hold, though, and he was never quite the same player.

Yet, his explosive pace and eye for goal made him a genuine threat. He scored on his debut for Australia against Iran, becoming the youngest ever player to have pulled on the yellow shirt at the age of 17 and seven months in the process. It was also his goal that sent the Aussies through to the knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup.

Harry Kewell celebrates scoring for Australia against Croatia in the World Cup on June 22, 2006.© Getty Images

1. Tim Cahill (2004-present, 67 caps, 31 goals)

Admired hugely in England for his time with Millwall and Everton, Cahill is a true hero in his homeland, having often carried Australia.

The now New York Red Bulls midfielder scored the goal that sent Millwall through to the 2004 FA Cup final, as well as finding the net on numerous occasions in the Merseyside derby.

His performances for the Toffees, coupled with his two-goal contribution during the 2006 World Cup group stages against Japan resulted in Cahill being nominated for that year's FIFA Ballon d'Or award. Now in the autumn of his career, Cahill is expected to be a key figure at what will be his third tournament.

Tim Cahill of Australia celebrates his goal during the International Friendly match between Australia and Ecuador at The Den on March 5, 2014© Getty Images

Australia will face Spain, Holland Chile in this summer's World Cup, and you can follow every single match live with Sports Mole.

Continuing our 50-day countdown to the tournament, we will be looking at the greatest Belgian players of all time tomorrow.

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Who is the greatest Australian footballer of all time?

Tim Cahill
Harry Kewell
Mark Schwarzer
Lucas Neill
Mark Bresciano
Brett Emerton
John Aloisi
Johnny Warren
Robbie Kruse
Reg Date
Tim Cahill
Harry Kewell
Mark Schwarzer
Lucas Neill
Mark Bresciano
Brett Emerton
John Aloisi
Johnny Warren
Robbie Kruse
Reg Date
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on against Galatasaray during his team's Champions League match on February 26, 2014
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