Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:00:23] Santo Cilauro is a comedian, actor, presenter, author, radio host, producer, writer and cameraman. He’s been on The Late Show, The Panel, The Dish, The Castle, Frontline and Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup fever. He’s a man who wears many hats in the entertainment field. Santo is a massive football fan whose father, Vito, was an active member of the Victorian Soccer Federation and is a member of the Football Australia Hall of Fame. Here is Santo’s interview with 3ZZZ to talk about his love of all things football. Santo, firstly, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.

Santo Cilauro: [00:01:01] It’s always a pleasure. And whenever there’s football involved, I’m around for it.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:01:06] So when did your love of football begin?

Santo Cilauro: [00:01:11] Oh, my God. I’m just about, I would say in vitro, but I’m not sure whether my mum was a big fan at the time. So if I had have heard enough of what was going on outside of my mum’s tummy, I’m sure I would have got it from my dad. My dad’s always been involved in football administration. He migrated to Melbourne in the 1950s and one of the great community things to do for Italian migrants was obviously to be part of the various soccer clubs around. Juventus being the biggest one in Melbourne. So my father had always been involved, was always involved there, and then became involved in the Victorian Soccer Federation and eventually became chairman and sort of was on the Australian Soccer Federation. So my life I’ve grown up going to football games and being passionate for it and you know, my ability to play is in proportion to my passion for the game I’ve played. I’ve played at a level but not at a great level. But I do remember like my first World Cup was when I was a kid, I was seven or eight, and back then you couldn’t even watch it on the TV. It was the 1970 World Cup. So literally my dad took me to the cinema, to the Italian cinema, three months after the World Cup had actually finished in Mexico City. And I remember we went and saw Italy versus West Germany. It was the semi-final. Spoiler alert, Italy wins four-three. But it was hilarious because as a kid, you know, you’re at the cinema knowing full well that Italy had already won the match two or three months before. But there’s all these Italian guys sitting around smoking cigarettes, looking really nervous, going, oh, I don’t know, these Germans are tough. So that was my entree into World Cup, into the passion of the World Cup. But yeah, Gabriel, I’ve spent my whole life following the game, loving it, loving it to death.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:03:03] Did you ever have any ambitions or dreams and desires to be a professional footballer?

Santo Cilauro: [00:03:08] Not really. I think my dad’s a very realistic man, and he noticed in my very early days when I played at Juventus that I wasn’t made for it. I played when I was at Melbourne University. I played in the Provisional League. They had a decent side, but it was pretty much social by then. So and at school I was okay. But no. And I played indoor soccer until only a couple of years ago, which I’ve loved playing. So I mean I can kick a ball around. I mean if any of the people that I’ve played with remember my goalkeeping days, that I’m sure that they would ring you up and go… Don’t let’s not. I forget the day that he let in 11 goals against, I cannot remember who it was, that was in the Provisional league. So no, I wasn’t much of a player, Gabriel, not much of a player. But I can handle myself a little bit.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:04:01] You did mention that your father was involved in the administration of the game with Soccer Victoria for many years. What do you both think about the evolution of the game in Victoria?

Santo Cilauro: [00:04:12] That’s a great question because I think things go in cycles. I remember asking my dad, I was at an A-League sort of final. I think it was a final. It was when Archie Thompson scored five goals. Yeah, that was the grand final. Now we went to the semi-final about a week or two before, which I think Victory beat Adelaide was two-one or something like that. And it was a pretty good game. And there was a shitload of people at Etihad and I remember turning to my dad and I said, you know, I know this is all big and there’s a lot of people, but I seem to remember as a kid the Victorian Soccer Federation kind of games in the seventies the quality was better. And he looked at me and he said, keep your voice down. He goes, it was now I don’t. I still think that we’re in a far better place than we used to be, but we do underestimate the talent that was around in those days. I think a lot of teams had foreign players that would come out and live in Australia. So we were blessed because there was a whole lot of expats from Scotland, from Italy, from everywhere, from all places that would come here and lift the game. So it was a very clearly a very ethnocentric game back then. And I think the right thing has been done and that is, you know, taking away the flags from teams these days, the ethnic flags from teams.

Santo Cilauro: [00:05:49] However I’ve had this discussion with Mark Viduka, who, you know, we’re on the same page on this one. And that is that we’ve had to develop in this particular way. But what we’ve inadvertently done, or not inadvertently, but it’s been a by-product of it, and we’ve lost the pathways that some of our players had directly to Europe now. Now we’re beholden to agents and sometimes agents aren’t particularly good. But in the old days, there was always a pathway. Like Mark’s pathway to Croatia was simple. You know, they had direct contacts here with the Melbourne Knights and, you know, he was playing clearly, we know he’s playing NSL grand finals in his teens. But you know, within a year or two he was already in Croatia playing at the top level there. And then straight after that, those connections got him to, you know, to England and Scotland. But so the game has evolved here and so it should, but we’ve lost some of the things that made our team strong and possibly was the basis for our, you know, whatever we call our first golden generation in 2006. And now we’ve got another one. You know, a lot of those players, Brett, Vinnie Grella and all those guys, they had direct pathways from here, even though things were tough for them. And I think those pathways are a little bit lost at the moment. In fact, probably non-existent. That’s just my opinion. I could be completely wrong.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:07:23] Well, you sort of answered my next question, but I was going to ask, do you think that this sort of advancement and the sort of progression of things that has happened off the field has sort of hampered progress on the field in terms of pathways and just the general level of footballers in Australia?

Santo Cilauro: [00:07:42] I think it has, but I think we have to weigh it up. We have to weigh up. I mean, what’s the alternative? Do you want to keep those old pathways? Because then you’ll have to keep those old sorts of ethnic, I’m presuming unless there’s a different way altogether. I think the round ball game has got other impediments in this country, and that is that they’re being outcompeted by the other football codes. And I don’t mean just by in terms of talent and participation I’m talking politically and how stories are moved off the back page because of just political heft. I love the AFL, you know, I love following my Collingwood side as much as I love, you know, following my Chelsea or Juve or my other my other teams that I follow in the round ball game. But the AFL now had to protect its turf here in Victoria. I’m presuming the NRL does the same in the northern states and we can’t compete with that. You know, we’re not a squeaky wheel, you know, as Graeme Arnold has been saying these days, we don’t get the government support, we don’t have an ace anymore for football, we don’t have a home, we don’t have the resources. And I really hope that the success we’re having at the moment, you know, might galvanise some of that feeling and, and hopefully politicians might want to harness some of the enthusiasm in the public right now to do something about it, because it would be we’re not that far away from a World Cup, Gabriel. We’re really not. I’m with Ange on this. I’m totally with Ange. I think we’ve got a lot of resources, and if we knew how to pull them together properly, I don’t think we’re far away from a World Cup.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:09:30] Because of who you are and your love of the game, have you ever been approached to either start up a club or be a part of the committee of an A-League or even part of the Football Australia committee or anything like that?

Santo Cilauro: [00:09:47] Not part of that administration. But certainly, I’ve always been approached as in do you want to buy some shares here or do you want to be part of a team of people that, you know, we want to take over an overseas club or whatever like that? I could think of nothing worse than that. I love my football to the point that I’d hate for it to be a business concern of mine. I’d hate that, you know, it would be terrible. And in terms of being part of an administrative body, I don’t think I’m particularly good at that. However, I have spoken to a lot of people in those areas where they’ve just asked my opinion about stuff. That’s where I’d love to travel. In fact, I do go a little bit under the radar and speak to people that may be influential about specific things. And I love doing that because we have a particular relationship with Channel Ten. When Channel Ten back in the day before they got the rights to the A-League, they’d been speaking to me on a semi-regular basis about the pros and cons of actually getting the rights to football in Australia. And I’d put in my two bobs worth. I’d be very honest. I don’t you know; I don’t feel like I carry the banner for Australian football. You know what I mean? I’ll advise people or let them know my opinions, warts and all, about the game, because I do think that there are shortcomings in our game that we need to get over. And we sort of have been we do get over the little humps every now and again, but we do create new ones for ourselves. So it’s a good question to ask, Gabriel, because I love it so much and I’d love to get involved in something, but it’s finding my niche or what I’m really good at is kind of difficult because I am so passionate about it. I really am.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:11:39] When you said that you don’t carry the banner, in what way do you think that you’re not influential or that you don’t have sort of like the backing of most people?

Santo Cilauro: [00:11:49] Oh, no. Look, I think what I do is, I’m essentially a storyteller and a joke writer. I’m not a particularly good joke teller, as most of my friends would attest. I’m not very good at telling jokes, but I do like writing jokes, and I do like telling and I do like writing funny stories. And we do like doing shows like, you know, Santo, Sam and Ed clearly. So I think that’s my strength. I think that, you know, you can sometimes tell the truth through comedy. That’s a good way of doing it. I don’t think I’d be a very good administrator. And also, my visions kind of changed too quickly. I could talk to you about what I think is the right direction for Australia right now. And if you ask me, in six months’ time, I might just change that. And I don’t think that’s a that’s a healthy trait to have when it comes to having, you know, a long-term plan for something. You know, I mean, look at Ange. Ange has got a long-term plan for things. Clearly, he adjusts every now and again because things change. I don’t know if he were in charge of Australia now, how different he’d be in his approach, but I think you need better and more strategic thinkers than I do when it comes to those things.

Santo Cilauro: [00:13:03] And therefore, I don’t feel like I carry the banner. It’s like saying do I carry the benefit for Australian born Italian sort of sons of migrants or children of migrants? I don’t feel I do that. I just tell the stories that are around me and they happen to be either about my background or they happen to be about football. But that’s just because they’re around me. If I was passionate about golf, I think I’d be doing the same thing about golf. I hate golf, by the way. But so, in that sense, that’s what I meant about feeling. I don’t carry the banner for it. I’m very happy to share my passion and try and get other people to share that passion with me. But I don’t feel that I’m, you know, hey guys, I shouldn’t be saying this because I should be. I’m a poster boy or a representative of that sport, I don’t feel that burden on me.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:14:02] We were mentioning just briefly about pathways and other things that happened in the past and how things have evolved. If there was like a magic wand and you were in charge of Football Australia, you did have a lot of influence and say, is there anything in particular that you would change about how football is run in Australia?

Santo Cilauro: [00:14:22] I would try. I’ve just waited too long to see an Australian player that other teams, other teams around the world fear. I mean, it’s been 20 years since Harry Kewell played and I just feel if I could wave one magic wand, I would put spotters out everywhere and actually just look for the next big thing in Australia. I think we need a player that will just say, Oh my God, this guy can guide us through, or we can form a team around this person because I think that’s how World Cups are won. You know, you build teams around people like right now, if you had to ask me right now, you’d build a team around Soutar and Kuol, you know what I mean? You say take those two kids and just say, you know what, let’s build a team around that. Let’s form a team. I think we spent too long. There’s a bit of a revolving door, you know, people coming in and out. It’s a pity Danny hurt himself a few years ago because I felt like, you know, you want a player that other teams have to double team. You know what I mean? I think the only reason we have trouble up forward is that no one really fears anyone that we have who can score goals.

Santo Cilauro: [00:15:39] So that’s my magic wand. Let’s find somebody. And, you know, so my boys played at a decent level, at junior level down in Victoria, in the Premier League, in the juniors and stuff. And I spent my 12 or whatever it is years that both of them spent there growing up. I was hardly in there to watch them. I was just looking around me to see who the next big thing is. Who’s really, really good. And you know what? I only saw about one or two. I really did. I only saw about one or two. But possibly there could have been you know, there could have been 20 or 30 that in the right hands could have just been taken aside. Now, look, I think I don’t want to be unfair to the structures that are around at the moment. I’m sure that there, you know, I’m sure someone will be listening to this guy. Hang on. That’s what we are trying to do and it’s hard to find. So, you know, I think there are people that are trying to find good players and then give them the right coaching. But I think we need to take that to the next level. We’ve got a great asset in this country, and we’ve shown this in the World Cup, and that is, you know, our fighting spirit. You can’t question that.

Santo Cilauro: [00:16:45] It’s like we don’t know what’s in the World Cup rulebook. We don’t know that we’re supposed to get beaten at a certain point. You know, we just keep going. You know, there’s this delusion that we have that we know we can, you know, if the luck changes, we can beat teams. Now, that’s dynamite. If we’ve got that and can mix that up with two or three really, really good players, I mean, we’ve got a great bunch of players, but I’m you know what I mean? I’m talking about the next level. Then I’m telling you, we’re not far away from a World Cup. So maybe that’s what Arnie is talking about, you know, getting a home for Australian football where we look for that. I mean, I spoke to Ange about this when he was getting his Asian Cup team together, which was amazing. I mean, he had to spend a lot of time in Europe looking for lost players. He said there were players that we knew were on our books as juniors and then they disappeared and we literally had to go to, you know, we had to go to Croatia, we had to go to Turkey, we have to go to places and look for these kids that had left. And we basically lost contact with them, didn’t know what happened to them.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:17:49] Wow. And what you were saying about Daniel Arzani is very true. I remember I saw him for his very first game for Melbourne City. I thought, wow, this kid is someone special. I have to keep my eye on him. And now four years later, you know, here he is and his body is just broken down at such a young age. It’s a real shame.

Santo Cilauro: [00:18:06] I know, I know. It’s one of those things. Maybe he shouldn’t have gone.  I can’t remember where he got his injury. Was it in Scotland?

Santo Cilauro: [00:18:14] Yeah, that’s right, for Celtic. Yeah. Because I’m thinking if you’re going to send a young kid somewhere, I wouldn’t send them to Scotland. Yeah, I don’t know. I wouldn’t do that. I think Davidson went to Portugal, maybe played in the second division there. Yeah, that’s right. I’d send them somewhere else. And then, in fact, I remember Alan Davidson, his father, telling me that Jason’s best move was. So he went to Japan, he went to the academy in Japan because I think he’s Japanese. And then he went to Europe and then he played a year of Premier League in Victoria for Port Melbourne, where he basically has still quite a young player played against big, tough blokes who just wanted to hurt you. So and he said that was a pretty big development for him. And then he went straight into the Asian Cup team and you know, but again, I think Jason in a weird way disappeared, kind of quickly, disappeared too quickly. The players seem to come and go. I remember even before Daniel Arzani,Tommy Oar was a know was like, hang on Tommy Oar could be the next big thing for Australia. And somehow you know what? I don’t know. I don’t know the game or the development of the game to know exactly why that happened, whether he made some poor choices into in, in where he went or whether it was a mental, you know, whether it was a psychological thing that that or a physical physical problems that he had. I don’t follow at that point. So I hope that that that we have structures whereby those little problems are avoided, you know, or avoid and that the opposite happens, that those kind of players are nurtured, nurtured through hard times. And somehow we can we can get something out of it. I’m confident that we can.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:20:01] Yeah, well, I hope so. Just on the Socceroos, what did you think of the Socceroos performance in Qatar?

Santo Cilauro: [00:20:07] It was funny because I heard Graham Arnold talk about how he now hopes he’s put to bed the idea that this was our worst team for five years. I think he might have, might have slightly understood what people meant. I think people are saying it is a positive thing. As in, isn’t it amazing how a team on paper could achieve so much? So I think it was a compliment. I think that look, I mean, I hate to be in furious agreement with everybody. I like to obviously take the opposite view every now and again. But I think that they did amazing. I think that they did amazing. I think we are now clearly after five World Cups. We are. This is the most important thing for me, having been to various World Cups and having followed the World Cup, as I said, since 1970 when I first watched it at the cinema, I think when. Now, finally, and it takes a while, we’re finally building up a critical mass of historical wisdom. I think you need that at World Cups. You need to. The reason Italy keeps being a nuisance in World Cups and winning World Cups when they probably don’t deserve to win half of them is because they have this accumulated wisdom. There is enough people around the squad at the time to understand the right and the wrong things to do, especially when you’re going badly.

Santo Cilauro: [00:21:20] I mean, Italy’s won World Cups when they haven’t deserved to win World Cups. And that’s why I think Argentina will possibly do pretty well, because you’ve got to win ugly to get to a certain point at World Cups. Now, I think there was a lot to learn from Argentina’s game. I think despite the fact that Aziz Behic was about to score one of the great World Cup goals of all time, he’d be disappointed at himself for having sort of lost his head just a little bit in the lead up to Messi’s goal and giving away the free kick. And he’s one of my favourite people. In fact, I think he’s my favourite person on the team. But I reckon that will have played a little bit on his mind, which is fine as long as it’s something we learn from. I think Matt Ryan, who again I love to death. So that was a terrible goal to give away. But in a way we’ve got to learn from that. It’s a pity he didn’t have enough game time in the lead up to the World Cup because they’re the both the second goal against France and the second goal against Argentina to me is a result of not having enough game time before you get to a World Cup because they’re the mistakes you make at your league level and you don’t repeat later on.

Santo Cilauro: [00:22:30] And moments are won and lost, you know, I find in World Cups, by great strikers or goalkeepers and at the end not putting that ball away. I think you did all the right things but just shows you that a great moment from a keeper I thought it was a wonderful save, means so much. Now I’ll go back to  what I said about the historical wisdom we have to store. I mean, we will store all that in our collective memories now, and that will get us to a quarter final next time. It might even get us to a semi-final. We have to keep accumulating these moments. And that to me, is the most encouraging part of Australia’s development so far. I thought we had a great World Cup in 2014 as well and were unlucky not to go through. Now all these memories have to be stored as long as there are custodians around the team that can then pass these on. Because young players tend to forget history, young people tend to forget history. And I think it’s important for this stuff to be the currency around players as they approach World Cups in the future.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:23:36] As a fan of the Socceroos, did you ever truly imagine that the Socceroos would ever go on to qualify for not just one but five World Cups in a row?

Santo Cilauro: [00:23:45] I went through the entire pain of of all those lost qualifications against Israel, Scotland, Argentina, Uruguay. I went through the pain of those Iran, of course. And for us to actually make it to, you know, when we made it to 2006, it was it was a great moment. And and, you know, to me, the greatest World Cup moment of my life was to see Italy play against Australia at a at a final stage. It’s just I literally at the end of that I said, you know what, you can kill me right now. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care about anything. I’ve done everything I’ve had my kids, I’ve seen, I’ve seen the game that I’ve waited my life to see. So no, I went through a lot of pain. Mind you, I think you’ve got to I think the joy of of qualifying in 2005 that night in Sydney was made was built on the loss in 1997, in Melbourne in November against against Iran. I think that there those moments you can only go through the pleasure of what we’ve just felt over the past few days after we’ve gone through the pain of a whole lot of other stuff. So no Gabriel, I never thought we would qualify for five in a row.

Santo Cilauro: [00:24:59] That is truly an amazing feat when you look at who else is around. And it’s a great testament too that it is a real asset that we have that we don’t go by the script. You know what had Kuol put that goal away – I’m so certain we would have won that penalty shoot out against Argentina. I’m certain I was getting most of my family live in Argentina, so I was getting all these texts and videos and stuff from Argentina and that was that were very, very relieved, as were Italy. In 2006. I spent a lot of time with Italian journalists over in Germany, and they said the round of 16 is the hardest game because these big fancied sides are still trying to play with their cards close to their chest. I still don’t don’t want to give too much away to their to their their rivals. So they’re hard games to to navigate through so so yeah we’ve done. Well, And when you look at the results of the other round of 16 games, we’ve we’ve acquitted ourselves by far the best of all the teams that have gone down.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:26:04] Well, we’ve spoken a lot about the Socceroos and about men’s football, but what do you think about the evolution of the game on the female level when it comes to the W-League and especially with the Matildas?

Santo Cilauro: [00:26:14] Oh, look, I mean, there’s no doubt about that. It’s it’s made football so exciting here. I mean the excitement of the Matildas game is, is truly amazing. I mean it really is. It’s again, I think it’s very instructive for the men’s game because again, we do have superstars, our girls, we do have have two or three superstars in that side. And that’s the excitement that, you know, the men’s should be looking to that. That should be an inspiration to the men going, oh, okay, not only do we play with pirit, not only is the country behind us, but if we have some good players that people around the world fear, then we could go that route. But to me, the exciting part about the Matildas is that when you look at who who represents Australians on the sporting, you know, in the sporting arena around the world, it used to be the Australian cricket team. Does the Australian cricket team really represent all Australians now? I don’t think so. Well, it doesn’t really. The Wallabies, when they were travelling pretty well, they kind of do and people rally behind them. Our other codes aren’t really international. I mean, I guess you could argue that, you know, that that rugby league, as we as we’ve just experienced over in Britain, we did well.

Santo Cilauro: [00:27:38] But our, our soccer teams are our national teams and that’s the beauty of them, you know what I mean? Everybody rallies around them. If you ask who represents us on the sporting field, it’s the it’s the Matildas and the Socceroos. So that’s the exciting thing about it. In terms of the women, I still think that there’s some genuine improvement that we could make at the local level. You know, I think it’s great that we’ve got that we do so well at the international level, but again, you’re asking me to put an administrative hat on or a governance kind of hat on, which I don’t have. I’ve looked in the wardrobe and I don’t have it there. So if you could strengthen the local game here, then I’d put I’d invest into that big time. But it’s an exciting I think it’s a very exciting time, especially for women’s football. And you know what? Isn’t it an interesting the times I take my father because he still goes to functions, you know at the Football Victoria or and that he always he always starts off his addresses whenever he does a public address and how excited he is at the at the development and evolution of women’s football here in Australia. He’s really excited about that.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:28:54] You just touched upon it just, just briefly about the Socceroos and the Matildas being the true sort of avatar of contemporary modern Australian society, that it is a group of multicultural people coming together to represent Australia on the global stage. Do you think that the performances and the people watching at and Federation Square and all these live sites and the fact that the game against Argentina was number one in the TV ratings that football is, is well and truly has well and truly arrived, that it’s no longer just a sport that some people sort of have a passing fancy over, that it’s a proper sort of respected sport in Australia.

Santo Cilauro: [00:29:36] Oh, no, it’s a respected sport. I do think that it’s always been respected. I think it’s always been outmanoeuvred, I think it’s been outmanoeuvred by the other, by the other codes that have got got more power and money at their disposal and, and it’s well, you know what, we’re in an interesting time, Gabriel, because the the way our perceptions are governed by, you know, by media and media used to be newspapers. Now media is everything. So and everywhere it’s ubiquitous. And people choose what they want to watch and how they want to watch it and how they want to be told stories. So all of a sudden, the days where the, the Telegraph and the Herald Sun were, where they wielded power, maybe those days have gone. So now’s the time to capitalize on the fact that the media is dispersed. I think that one of the great advantages that we have in this country is that whether or not young kids are passionate about the game, they will wear an Zimbabwe shirt or you know what I mean? There’s currency in in superstars, in whatever field there are in the world and and football superstars in the world. Up at the very top. So we’ve been the we’ve been the beneficiaries of that. So I’m sure that, in fact, I know at Federation Square, I reckon what there would be 70 to 80% of people that were hardcore fans. But don’t you reckon they’d be 20 or 30% of people that kind of say, Yeah, now my team is Paris Saint-Germain or my team is Chelsea or whatever. I don’t really know that much about football, but I follow it enough to know that he’s making a lot of money or this guy’s a superstar or she’s wonderful and she’s on the cover of FIFA 23 or whatever. And I’m just excited by the sport. I think that that is the case.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:31:36] Yeah. And possibly the occasion itself and the event itself.

Santo Cilauro: [00:31:40] Yeah. Now, the thing is that, I mean, we’ve been through this before. I mean, when we did well in 2006, it was a, it was a great period for, for the, for the A-League. The A-League had had a few wonderful years but, but what the A-League, as much as I hate to say it you know has has has sort of settled back into a sort of an area where you’re going, well what happened. We didn’t capitalise on all the, the momentum that the A-League had,I don’t know the answer to that. We can’t really attract marquee players and if we can’t attract big marquee players, then maybe we should be investing more in our own in our own homegrown players and get exciting young ones coming through. But soccer’s always been a bit of a it’s always had a slight element of handbrake to it. We’ve never sort of got into fifth gear, if you know what I mean. We haven’t just gone forward and it’s been unhindered. There’s too many other people fighting for survival and there’s a lot of money involved in this, you know, even the TV rights. You know, it was interesting here, the A-League is on Paramount Plus. I mean, is that ideal? I’m not 100% sure. I mean, I like streaming services and another future is in streaming services. But is that ideal right at this very moment? Not 100%. So I think we have to be realistic, Gabriel, about what we think about the sport. We can get pretty excited at the moment and, and there’s a heap of potential there. Our, our A-League is producing great coaches. It’s not I think it’s producing great players. We’ve shown that now in the World Cup. But the fact that Ange and let’s not forget Kevin Muscat has has major achievement this year, truly amazing achievement in in the J-League and even, you know. Graham Arnold Even though I know he’s gone through, it’s not just been the A-League but the A-League has been good, but we really have to nurture it and look after it because I think our future lies there.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:33:42] Yeah, I like what you said – that when it comes to the A-League there’s sort of been like this handbrake that’s been pulled on it, that there’s a lack of not necessarily vision but a lack of wanting to do more. Do you think that if the A-League was sort of a little bit more adventurous and had a an expansion plan and a second division happening, would that would have changed things? Would that be better?

Santo Cilauro: [00:34:08] I really do wish I knew. I don’t speak to enough people to get the the various point of view about it. Personally I do like that. I like the hunger of of of trying to make it into the top flight. And I like the dogfights at the bottom of the top flight’s at the end of the year. It gives it a real passion. So I think there’s a lot to be said about that. But can we sustain that? Because it’s like saying there’s a friend of mine who works at one of the major art galleries. I won’t mention which one, it’s one of the state ones. And, and he was saying that the race is on right now around the world to get more women artists in the galleries because because the quota system is like there are so many more men, artists, male artists and female artists. And he said, it’s really tricky because everyone’s everyone’s chasing female artists around the world, but they actually have to be good because if they’re not good, then you’re doing a disservice to female artists. So so if you’re going to set up, if you’re going to set up an expanded league, you better make sure that it’s good that it’s not just making up the numbers because you might be doing a disservice. You’ve actually got to get that right.

Santo Cilauro: [00:35:23] So I’m not sure. All I do know is that we certainly need more resources into looking at how do we strengthen it, what do we do. I suspect that in the end it will be that we will have to go, especially when when you look at the participation, there’s no shortage of players. Oh, my God, there’s no shortage. There’s no shortage of teams around the place. I do get the feeling that there is sometimes the remnant, the remnants of village politics inside major clubs as well. And if we were able to get rid of that side of things and have. I think we are. I think the more I say, the more I make CEOs of clubs, the more they’re clinical that things. They’re not they’re not sentimental or they’re not, you know, they don’t have vested interests. All they want to do is make sure that their club is successful. And they’re very professional in that sense. And I do think their tendencies will be up now at a league level. I think that we have to harness that. We actually have to harness that going forward. We have to the feeling that we have right now we have to harness and and also trying to exploit. And that’s where we need to be cleverer how to exploit the situation.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:36:32] Just slightly off topic in the rich history of Australian cinema, there’s been plenty of sports movies, but none about football. Have you or anyone you know thought about doing a movie with football in mind?

Santo Cilauro: [00:36:44] My God, I’ve been talking. I can’t even tell you the subject matter because it’s because it’s a great story. It’s in Australian NFL history, strangely enough. But there are great stories. There are fantastic stories. One of my great passions, one of my great passions is the pain we felt in November and 97 at the MCG in Iran. The fact that it was the second leg of of a qualifier where there were 100,000 plus at both qualifying games and what happened that night, the drama that happened that night, the consequences of what happened that night, the long term consequences of what happened that night. Now I think there’s a film in that there’s and there’s many stories that there’s I mean, even our qualification for the 1974 World Cup is filled with incredible stories that you wouldn’t even believe that, you know, we had to go to Vietnam during the Vietnam War to qualify. We did some incredible journeys back then, which were hilarious. When you look back at them, there are great moments. There are moments in 2006 which which would be fantastic. There are there was the Craig Johnson story is an incredible story in itself. It’s a truly remarkable story. There are remarkable soccer stories. And I’m trying to look at them all and unfortunately, I’m busy doing lots of other stuff, But I would love to collaborate with people on stories because there are some rippers, there are some absolute rippers.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:38:12] Is there anyone famous or well known that truly surprised you about their knowledge or affection for football, where you thought, Wow, I would never have guessed that person likes football.

Santo Cilauro: [00:38:23] That’s interesting. Yes, there’s a comedian that I love. I mean, for people who love going to the Comedy Festival, he’s a bit of a staple. His name is Tim Vine. He’s a pun comedian, but he’s also a little bit surreal, a little bit pun. But he’s his knowledge for football is incredible. So  I was totally surprised we had him on Sa Santo, Sam and Ed once because I’d heard that he was or someone told us that he was amazing and he was truly amazing in terms of, you know, who loves their soccer. I think Will Ferrell. In fact, we had a great chat. I think Sam Pang and I had a great chat with Will Ferrell on air when we did we did an Olympics show once, maybe in about 2016 or something like that. And his knowledge of, you know, what, his knowledge of all sports is quite incredible. But I didn’t know he was such a soccer fan. We really were surprised that Will Ferrell was so passionate about USA Football.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:39:27] He’s on the board of LAFC. Is that right?

Santo Cilauro: [00:39:30] Really? You know what? I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. All I remember is at the time Sam was talking to him about about basketball, and I raised something about maybe maybe the US soccer team for the Olympics or something. And he just went on about about his football, which was which surprised me.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:39:50] You’ve had plenty of experiences and memories involving football. What is the most priceless footballing memory or story that you have?

Santo Cilauro: [00:39:58] Well, my most the most priceless one. Well, the biggest one for me personally was and trust me, there are lots of them. Like, I’ll never forget the first time I heard everyone remembers the first time they heard their father swear. I heard my father swear when I walked in early one morning in 1970 when I was a little kid because he was listening to the radio. He was listening to Italy versus Brazil, the final in Mexico City. And that would have been presumably about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, Melbourne time. So I walked into the kitchen in our place in Collingwood and the room was completely dark. There was just the tip of a cigarette in the darkness. I could just see this red red tip and I could hear swearing going on. It was the tip was bouncing up and down and it was bloody, you know he’s an effing and, and, and then I kind of switched the light on. He got a shock because I was there and then he was trying to explain to me that he, he doesn’t hate Pele. He thinks he’s a wonderful player, but he’s killing Italy. And so that was one of my great my earliest one of my earliest football memories and also one of my great memories of hearing my dad swear. But for me, the biggest one was in 1984.

Santo Cilauro: [00:41:08] I was at Melbourne University and I was walking over to my Zia Rosa and Zia Maria’s place in West Brunswick to get some to get some homemade pizza. They would make it about once a month. And on the way was the Park Royal Motel. I don’t think I don’t know what it’s called now. It’s called something else now, Vibes or something like that. It’s opposite Princes Park and the Juventus team of 1984 were giving a press conference at the time. And then for those of you, for those old enough to remember, the 1984 Juve team was made up of half of the Italian side that won the World Cup in 1982. And my dad had told me that the press conference was going to be there, and I didn’t realise until I walked past it, saw all these cameras and everything there. So I walked in just to look at the players because Paolo Rossi was there and Trapattoni was the coach and Zoff was there all lined up, Cabrini was t ere. Boniek And and as I walked in there, the press conference was about to start and one of the journalists asked Giovanni Trapattoni, who’s going to answer the questions in English? And Trapattoni never forget, he says, I speak English. Very good. I answer all of the questions, no problem.

Santo Cilauro: [00:42:17] And I thought, Oh geez, good luck. When when you’re asked by Australian journalists. As sure as I was, there was the first question was, Mr. Trapattoni, what do you think? How do you reckon you’ll go against Manchester United? You reckon you’ll do well in this, in this triangular cup, all speaking at a million miles an hour? Trapattoni had no idea what was going on. So I put my hand up and offered to translate the question. And before I knew it, he. He dragged me up onto the front desk and I spent and I spent the rest of the tour being their translator for the, for the team. That was one of the great moments of my life, mind you. And I’ve told the story a few times, Mick Molloy makes me tell the story whenever he gets a chance. But my, my duties as translator wasn’t just translating. I had to do other things, like I had to hold on to the player’s wedding rings every night before they went out and take phone calls from , back before mobile phones, I used to have to take the phone calls from the players wives and explain why they couldn’t take their phone call right at this very moment. So you could imagine what was going on in that and that particular tour.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:43:29] Oh, my.

Santo Cilauro: [00:43:30] Gosh. That’s that’s one of the great but the great the greatest single moment in terms of World Cup moments was clearly, without a doubt going to see Italy versus Australia in at the round of 16 in 2006. That’s that’s the highlight of my life. In fact, I didn’t I wasn’t interested in staying on. I’d watch the other Australia Games. I booked my ticket straight back to Australia regardless of whether Italy or Australia, how far they went on. I as far as I was concerned, I had to get back to work, but I had seen the game that I’d waited my whole life to see. So and, and I was, I tested myself that day because I’d followed Italy for, for all the World Cups, and all of a sudden I find myself, you know, faced with the prospect of, geez, who would I follow in this game? And I’m proud to say that I wore the Australian shirt that day and I was devastated that Australia lost.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:44:21] Wow, that’s fantastic. I’ve taken up way too much of your time. So I’ll ask one last question. Who is the greatest player that you’ve ever seen?

Santo Cilauro: [00:44:30] From what I’ve seen, I do think that Pele is is the greatest player that I’ve actually watched in films. And also the fact that he’s won World Cups so freely. That’s amazing. I’ve seen the Maradona documentary I think four times now because I find him fascinating as a person. I’m just trying to think in terms of having seen someone play. Who do I think, you know what? I’ve seen enough of Gianluigi Buffon to know how great a World Cup player he is. I thought he was great in World Cups. I thought he was great. In 2006. I thought Cannavaro was fantastic. In 2006, I saw, you know, the original Ronaldo at his very best in World Cups in the in the in 98 and the early 2000. So I thought I think let’s not underestimate old Ronaldo. He knew how to score a goal and he was just brilliant to watch. I loved his power. I loved his turn of speed. I’m just trying to think. That’s such a good question because there are so many wonderful players. I’m a big fan, even though I’m not an AC Milan fan. A fan, but the AC Milan players of the of the late eighties, you know, Guillit and Rijkaard.

Gabriel D’Angelo: [00:45:49] And Van Basten.

Santo Cilauro: [00:45:50] When you saw them together it was like they were a three headed kind of monster. So who’s the best player? Those three put together were pretty good. So they’re the people that stand out for me in my time.