NEWCASTLE football legend Ray Baartz is still haunted by the ‘‘karate chop’’ that prevented the former Socceroos vice captain from realising his World Cup dream.
Baartz was felled with a blow to the throat by Uruguay’s Luis Garisto in an international friendly at the Sydney Cricket Ground before leaving for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany – Australia’s debut.
The cheap shot in back play ended the career of the attacking midfielder, regarded by many as a once-in-a-generation player.
Baartz’s story, which has become a part of Australian football folklore, features in a new sports documentary, November 16.
The hour-long feature celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Socceroos’ penalty shoot-out victory over Uruguay in 2005 that earned qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, ending a 32-year drought.
The film also looks at the history of Australia and Uruguay, in particular the attack on Baartz.
‘‘They have come up with some footage from that game I haven’t seen,’’ Baartz said. ‘‘I tried for years to get footage and never could get anything. It’s nice that they have linked the present to the past.
‘‘The game is finally starting to build a bit of tradition. ‘‘That is one area where the game has been lacking compared to other codes.
‘‘You have to respect the people who have been there and done that.
‘‘Like most sports, past players didn’t get the monetary rewards that they do now, but they laid the foundations, which is very important.’’
November 16 is a film by Ben Coonan, FFA’s videographer since 2012, in collaboration with Fox Sports presenter Richard Bayliss, and has been produced with the support of Football Federation Australia (FFA) and broadcast partners Fox Sports and SBS.
The film features never-seen-before content from the magical night at Stadium Australia in 2005 when John Aloisi famously scored from the penalty spot to send the Socceroos to the World Cup, as well as rare archive footage dating back to Australia’s first successful FIFA World Cup qualification in 1973.
Baartz and many of the 1974 Socceroos were in the stands at Stadium Australia that night 10 years ago.
‘‘SBS were doing a documentary on the ’74 side at the time and got us all together,’’ Baartz said. ‘‘It was good to be there and be with the team to celebrate the win.’’
Baartz was interviewed at his Charlestown home for the new film and said the process had rekindled memories of the karate chop that nearly ended his life.
After receiving treatment for several minutes, Baartz continued playing despite a headache and went on to score a goal, set up another and steer Australia to a 2-0 triumph.
Next morning he couldn’t move his left arm or leg and was rushed to hospital.
The blow had struck the carotid artery so hard that it had swelled and partially closed, reducing the blood flow to the brain. For several hours his life hung in the balance. His football career was over at age 27.
‘‘It was touch and go for a few days and it took me a good couple of years to get over it,’’ Baartz said. ‘‘Playing again wasn’t an option.
‘‘It really hit home when I was in Germany with the team but couldn’t go on the park. Not playing at the World Cup still haunts me.
‘‘It was a bitter disappointment.’’
Although devastated at being unable to compete at the World Cup, Baartz appreciates the situation could have been worse.
‘‘It brought home how severe the injury could have been when Phil Hughes was killed,’’ Baartz said. ‘‘I actually rang Brian Corrigan, who was the doctor for the team at the time and also was doctor for the Australian cricket team.
‘‘He told me he had thought of me straight away. We both got hit in the same spot, but Phil Hughes’ artery burst and mine swelled.’’
November 16 will be broadcast on Fox Sports on Monday at 9pm, followed by a broadcast on SBS on November 18 at 11pm.