Socceroos legend Rale Rasic, who coached Australia to their first World Cup in 1974, says the passion of football fans celebrating the team's success brought tears to his eyes.
Speaking after the Socceroos' 1-0 win over Denmark on Thursday, the 86-year-old praised coach Graham Arnold for his role in the side's best ever performance in the tournament's group stage.
"He believed in his boys, he believed in his selections, he carried the country," he told ABC Radio.
Arnold, who was the subject of intense criticism during Australia's rocky qualification campaign, led the Socceroos out of the group stages for the second time in their history.
Yugoslavian-born Rasic was appointed head coach of the national team in 1970 and revolutionised football in his adopted home, introducing a new-found professionalism and discipline to the game.
"That green and gold power - our pride, our honour - is so great that when you put that jersey on you are a 60 per cent better player," he said.
"Our country just does not realise what that magic means and when I saw Victoria (Federation) Square that brought big time tears to my eyes.
"That is how all Australia should be celebrating these kids."
Despite sitting down the pecking order of Australian sporting codes, Rasic believes football plays a unique role in bonding the nation.
"All Australian sports put together, (with the) exception of the Olympic Games, can never promote Australia and Australian image worldwide as the Socceroos (can)," he said.