On one side of the pitch stood Australia’s best – John Anastasiadis, Paul Trimboli and Goran Lozanovski.

On the other side were David Beckham, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Jordi Cruijff – the world’s best.

It was a match-up only found at the FIFA World Club Championships, which South Melbourne Hellas qualified for in 2000 after being crowned Oceanian Champions in 1999.

As expected, Manchester United were too good on the day with a brace from Quinton Fortune enough to see them through.

But it is what happened after the game what the caught the eye of the South Melbourne players.

Hellas winger Goran Lozanovski recalls the scenes post-match in the Manchester United dressing room when the players went to exchange playing strips.

“There was a bit of sarcasm from the United players when we came in,” Lozanovski said.

“Would you believe the current coach Ole [Solskjaer] and Andy Cole were giggling going ‘look at these amateurs’.

“But Roy Keane walks in and really put them in their place, telling them to be respectful.

“I have the utmost respect for Roy he was a complete gentleman.”

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The part-timers tag was quickly shaken off by the Hellas players who held South American champions Vasco De Gama scoreless at half time in front of 66,000 at the Maracana resulting in home side booed into their dressing rooms.

South gained global respect after their performance at the tournament and while they were unable to gain any points they were not disgraced.

“Just to qualify for the tournament was surreal,” Lozanovski said.

“We had to play this local Fijian side to qualify and it was the toughest game we had played in.

“The grass was thick and there were toads jumping on the ground.

“But we wanted that win badly because we knew what the end result would be.”

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Athos Sirianos
athos@footballnationradio.com.au