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Dec 14, 2012

Chipperfield shocked over FFA honour

Having a bar named in his honour at Swiss football powerhouse FC Basel used to blow Scott Chipperfield's mind.

Now the retired Socceroo has something else to get his head around after being inducted into the Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame.

Chipperfield, 36, looked shocked when he was honoured in Brisbane on Thursday along with fellow inductees, Matildas legend Alison Forman and long time administrator Alan Vessey.

It seems Chipperfield's head has not stopped spinning since leaving hometown Bellambi near Wollongong.

Working fulltime as a bus driver, Chipperfield still emerged as the key to Wollongong's back-to-back National Soccer League titles from 2000-01.

"As a joke I drove the team bus the last 500m to the Wollongong clubhouse for the fans," Chipperfield laughed when reflecting on their initial 2000 triumph over Perth after trailing 3-0.

Then the left winger's eyes were truly opened when he took up a left field offer from FC Basel.

"As a Bellambi boy I never thought I would leave the area let alone go to Basel probably because I had never heard of it before," Chipperfield.

"I am very happy I did."

No wonder - he helped spark a golden era for the Swiss heavyweights.

In his first season there they won the championship for the first time in 22 years.

Next season they qualified for the elite Champions League (CL).

And on CL debut, Chipperfield scored in the first 45 seconds against Manchester United.

It couldn't get any better than this - or so he thought.

When his 11-year stint ended featuring six CL campaigns he emerged as FC Basel's most successful player, winning a remarkable seven league titles and six Swiss Cups.

His reward?

"They named their bar after me, which was appropriate," Chipperfield laughed.

But of course Australians know him more for his Socceroos heroics in two World Cup campaigns.

In all, he earned 68 international caps over 12 years including the 2005 qualifying triumph over Uruguay that ended Australia's 32-year World Cup drought.

His only regret was not playing in the A-League although he kept his fingers crossed he would one day return as a coach - for a revamped Wollongong.

"But at the moment I have a life in Switzerland," said Chipperfield, who is a trainer for a fifth-tier club.

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