Oscar Crino

Oscar Crino is one of the most skillful players ever to represent Australia. Born in Buenos Aires on 9 August 1962, he played as a junior for San Lorenzo before coming to Australia with his parents in 1972. He started at Footscray J.U.S.T. then went to Brunswick Juventus Under-16s and had some senior games under Tony Boggi and Manny Poulakakis.

He was an Australian schoolboy international in 1979 and part of the first intake into the Australian Institute of Sport in 1981— the only one from that group to represent Australia at national level. He was selected for the Australian Youth team which toured Israel in 1981. Then on 30 August 1981, the 19-year-old was given his international debut by Les Scheinflug against Indonesia after Rudi Gutendorf resigned following the Socceroos defeat by New Zealand. In September he turned out against Taiwan. Remarkably, he played in two senior World Cup qualifiers for Australia before he made his club debut in the National Soccer League.

Oscar Crino
John Little, Steve Blair and Oscar Crino, young stars for Australia at the 1981 World Youth Cup on home soil. Source: Les Shorrock collection, Deakin University Library.

The 1981 World Youth tournament was held in Australia in October and the Young Socceroos were drawn in a group with England, Argentina and Cameroon. Crino was particularly committed as Australia started with a two-one win over Argentina, the defending world champion. In the quarter-finals Australia lost by a goal to nil to the eventual winner West Germany.

The following year Crino left his Victorian club Juventus for a spell with Tung Sing in Hong Kong, but returned to South Melbourne in 1983 helping the club to win the NSL the following year. Crino was named the Under-21 player of the year. He played 13 times for the Socceroo A and B teams that year.

Strachan and Crino
Oscar Crino versus Scotland's Gordon Strachan in 1985, agonisingly close to qualifying for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

From then till 1989, Crino was a virtual ever present in the national team apart from 1986, when he was overseas. In 1985 the Socceroos drew the final World Cup qualifying match against Scotland at Olympic Park after Crino ran himself and the Scottish midfield into the ground. It was not enough as the away leg had been lost by two-nil. In 1988 he helped the Australia reach the knock-out stage of the Olympic Games in Seoul going down to the Soviet Union in the quarter-finals.

Farina and Crino
Frank Farina and Oscar Crino, teammates in national colours, rivals at club level.

In 1985/86 Crino had a season with Anorthosis Famagusta in Cyprus and returned to Australia in 1987 signing for Footscray J.U.S.T. He played some stellar games in the following seasons but he could not prevent J.U.S.T. from being relegated in 1989. In November he joined Preston Makedonia where he appeared in another 31 games with one goal.

With 70 matches for the Socceroos (39 A internationals), statistics will never accurately reflect Crino’s contribution to the game, for it was how he glided through matches in total control of the ball and the tactical situation which drew the fans. He could do breathtaking things and always seemed to have more time to perform his feats than those scurrying around him. After he retired from playing, he coached for a period, including Footscray J.U.S.T. before their demise, and Preston Lions and Albion Rovers in the Victorian State League Division Two North West.

Crino was inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame in 2000 and is a Life Member of Football Victoria.