The story of Australia's charter flight from Montevideo has been often told in the decade since Australia's 2005 FIFA World Cup qualification, but on Frank Lowy's final night as Football Federation Australia chairman, we finally heard it from the horse's mouth.
By
Matthew Connellan

17 Nov 2015 - 7:07 AM  UPDATED 17 Nov 2015 - 10:49 AM

Lowy, who made his farewell speech at the Socceroos' 10th anniversary gala dinner at ANZ Stadium last night, regaled the 700-strong crowd with the story- and it's even better from the man himself.

It has been long known that FFA dipped into its coffers to organise a charter flight back from Montevideo, to ensure the Socceroos' players were in tip-top shape for the second leg of the qualifier against Uruguay, in Sydney.

Guus Hiddink also outed then-Socceroos team manager Gary Moretti as the architect behind the Socceroos blocking of seats on commercial flights from Montevideo to Sydney, which forced the Uruguay into a long-winded, many-hour flight to the second leg.

But it was Lowy's recount of the charter flight arrangement which had the crowd in stitches.

"I had a call from (then FFA CEO) John O'Neill," Lowy said.

John said to me: `Frank, we have an opportunity to fly the team back to Australia, but it's going to cost us $350,000',"

"I said, `OK mate, go ahead'.

This, most people knew.

But it seems only those in the top brass knew what happened later on, when O'Neill rang Lowy back.

"He says `Frank, we could save some money. The Uruguayans are prepared to pay half if we bring them with us'," Lowy said.

"Guess what I told them... 

"Let them swim!" Lowy said as the crowd roared with laughter and appreciation.

All with a cheeky two fingered salute and a familiar twinkle in his eye.