BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — There were two diametrically different ways Andrew Redmayne stood to be remembered after he sprang into a distracting dance routine across the goal-line during the decisive shootout in Australia’s World Cup playoff against Peru.
Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold guessed right by sending the unheralded Redmayne on in the last seconds of extra time to replace captain Mat Ryan.
Redmayne guessed correctly, too. He stopped his so-called Wiggles dance in just enough time to re-balance, dive to his right to save Peru’s last shot from Alex Valera and secure Australia’s win 5-4 on penalties, and a spot in Qata r in November. A win for Peru would have cast the 33-year-old goalkeeper’s tactics in an altogether different light.
Australia’s chances of qualifying for a fifth consecutive World Cup hung on Redmayne after the intercontinental playoff finished 0-0 after regulation and extra time in Qatar late Monday night — it started in the predawn hours Tuesday morning in Australia.
Arnold had a hunch that the Sydney FC goalkeeper would produce something different in the shootout that might get into the heads of the Peruvian penalty takers. He wasn’t wrong.
After a few star jumps, Redmayne launched into a dance-like routine that included quick squats and flailing arms and legs, drawing the attention of everyone. He did it each time a Peruvian player took a kick from the penalty spot. Pundits openly wondered if the backup ‘keeper should quit the unusual antics and just move one way or the other in a bid to stop Peru’s spot kicks.
A TV commentator dubbed it the Wiggles dance, after the popular Australian children’s music group widely known for their so-called wiggly music and colored turtle necks.
After his diving save, Redmayne ran away from the post, arms extended like a plane, then stopped and slightly crouched, legs apart, mouth agape, eyes wide, waiting for the celebratory pile on.
The expression on his face was an instant meme. And his teammates streamed in from the sideline to jump all over him.
Australian fans who’d gathered in the southern hemisphere winter cold to watch the game at outdoor viewing areas, including one in Melbourne’s downtown Federation Square, erupted in celebration.
Tony Armstrong, a sports presenter for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and a former professional Australian rules footballer, was among the thousands of people who could barely contain their joy. He was screaming into his microphone “Yes, we’re through, we’re through to the World Cup” as he mixed it up with revelers.
It was Australia’s second sudden-death match in a week — the Socceroos beat United Arab Emirates 2-1 in an Asian playoff last Tuesday to advance to the Peru match.
Australia’s next big assignment will be a meeting with defending champion France in the opening game of Group D at the World Cup on Nov. 22, and take on Tunisia and Denmark.
Australian rules football and the two rugby codes usually take prominence at this time of the year Down Under. But within the space of two hours, the Socceroos went from long shots to qualify for the World Cup to the big shots of sport in Australia, at least for the day.
“The dedication and sacrifice that has gone into this campaign from so many people has been immense,” Arnold said. “And as coach of Australia I am so thrilled that millions of people across our country will today be talking about the Socceroos – a team that represents modern-day Australia through its diversity and multiculturalism and unites the nation.”
According to Arnold, saving Redmayne for the crunch time was all part of the game plan.
“Andrew Redmayne is a very good penalty saver,” Arnold said in a post-match TV interview, explaining that he made the change to put a “bit of uncertainty into their brains, get into the mental aspect of Peru.”
Redmayne, who’d played only twice previously for the Socceroos, will get most of the attention, but he preferred to deflect it.
“I’m not a hero,” he said. “I just played my role like everyone else did tonight. I can’t thank the team enough, the staff enough. You know, I’m not going to take credit.”
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