Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) congratulates the Socceroos on its historic qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup following last night’s 3-1 aggregate win over Honduras in Sydney.

The win sees Australia qualify for a fourth consecutive FIFA Men’s World Cup, a feat that was achieved after 22 matches in 12 countries on three continents over more than two years in one of the most arduous World Cup qualification paths in history.

“To see the leadership demonstrated across this team during this journey is proof this squad can continue to grow and achieve the ambitious goals it has set for itself on the world stage,” said PFA President Alex Wilkinson, who played for the Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“At different times, guys like Mile (Jedinak), Tim (Cahill) and Millsy (Mark Milligan) have stood up and gladly assumed responsibility. Their team-mates have responded and we finished the campaign full of energy and with a stronger belief in one another, which is a testament to the vision created by Ange (Postecoglou) and his coaching staff.”

PFA Chief Executive John Didulica says the win is a piece of history that nobody can take away from the Socceroos and that the game should not take for granted.

“Only 11 nations have qualified for the past four World Cups,” said Didulica. “Australia sits shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, England and Asian rivals we admire in South Korea and Japan.

“Whilst our aspirations should, and do, go beyond qualifying, we should take this opportunity to reflect on the sustained excellence of our national team players and the peerless way in which players over a decade have represented our country, day-in, day-out across the globe.

Didulica also sees the current success as recognition of the tireless work and potential of those currently playing and working in the A-League.

“This is the first World Cup qualification that has been entirely designed and executed by Australians, most of whom cut their footballing teeth in the A-League, so it is a tribute to the growing stature of those excelling on our doorstep – as players, coaches and support staff.

“Some of the history’s best prepared fighting forces have collapsed on the Road to Russia. Not ours.”