Frank Farina has been named as the latest recipient of the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Alex Tobin Medal to be presented at the annual PFA Awards in Brisbane on 13 June.

“Frank Farina rose to the top of Australian football at a time and in an environment where it was difficult to do so – let alone for a self-described skinny kid from regional Queensland via New Guinea,” said PFA Chief Executive, Brendan Schwab.

“He was in the second intake of players to the football program at the AIS 30 years ago and he has been an important contributor to the football narrative in Australia ever since.”

Born in Darwin in 1964, Farina spent his childhood in New Guinea before moving to Cairns as a 10 year old. After earning a scholarship to the AIS in 1982, he played with the Canberra Arrows, Sydney City and Marconi in the former national soccer league (NSL) for six years before a seven year career in Belgium, Italy and France. On his transfer from Club Brugge in Belgium to Bari in Italy in 1991, he attracted a then record transfer fee for an Australian player of $3.2 million.

He also played for Australia in the 1983 World Youth Cup, the 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cup campaigns, the 1988 Bicentennial Gold Cup and Seoul Olympics. In total, he played 86 times in an Australian shirt, including 37 ‘A’ internationals for 10 goals.

“He was also the first of Australia’s successful ‘exports’ to come home,” said Schwab.

“And if being one of our earliest and highest profile overseas Socceroos wasn’t enough, it was Frank’s return to the NSL in 1995, when he was still at the top of his game, that was a major boost to the development of the game.

“His return showed us what football was capable of in Australia because here was an exciting marquee player, in a geographically based team, who brought greater professionalism to his club, improved the quality of play and attracted big crowds for the big games.”

Under Farina’s first year as a player-coach, the Brisbane Strikers won the NSL championship in 1997 before a capacity crowd at Suncorp Stadium.

He continued as coach at Brisbane Strikers and Marconi before being appointed national coach of the Socceroos in 1999 at the age of 34, a position he held until 2005 when replaced by GuusHiddink.

“He was appointed to coaching positions at a very young age, without the benefit of the professional coach education now available,” Schwab said.

As well as his championship win with the Brisbane Strikers, Farina took the Socceroos to two Oceania championships and a 3rd placing in the 2001 Confederations Cup. He also won four league and three Cup championships as a player here and overseas, and has won multiple individual playing awards in Australia and overseas.

“His individual football awards are many and include the Player’s Player of the Year award, which is the forerunner to the Johnny Warren Medal, a feat only shared by three other players: last year’s Alex Tobin Medal recipient Mark Viduka, Paul Trimboli and Scott Chipperfield.”

In 2000, Farina was awarded an Order of Australia for his services to football as a player and coach.

The Alex Tobin Medal is the PFA’s highest honour and has only previously been awarded to Johnny Warren (posthumously), Joe Marston, Craig Johnston and Mark Viduka. It is awarded annually by the PFA Executive to a current or former player who demonstrates outstanding attributes of leadership, achievement as a player, commitment to fellow professionals and service and dedication to the game.

“Frank Farina has demonstrated these attributes over a 30 year professional career,” said Schwab.

“He has helped advance Australian football both here and overseas, and he is a worthy recipient of the Alex Tobin Medal.”


The Alex Tobin Medal will be presented to Frank Farina at the PFA Awards, held in conjunction with the Football Media Association (FMA), to be held in Brisbane on Wednesday 13 June 2012.  Other awards to be presented include the PFA Footballers of the Year, the PFA Harry Kewell Medal winner, PFA Scholarships and FMA International Players of the Year.