Andrew Redmayne poses with a huge smile after winning the penalty shoot out for the Socceroos in 2022

You can dance if you want to: How the internet reacted to the Socceroos triumph and Andrew Redmayne’s heroics

As Socceroos manager Graham Arnold motioned for a sub, and it became clear it was his goalkeeper and captain, Mat Ryan, that would be trotting off to be replaced by Andrew Redmayne, it began.

Nervous laughter at best, spittle-flecked rage at worst, the online response to the most audacious of technical substitutions suddenly burst out.

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It bears remembering the context surrounding this substitution. Arnold has been under acute pressure this qualifying campaign, for good reason. After rolling through the initial stages unbeaten, his team has struggled to play fluently against quality opposition.

Crunch defeats Japan and Saudi Arabia seemingly had him on the verge of unemployment.

Arnold has also been criticized for picking and fielding players perceived as ‘his favorites’, arguably to the detriment of the team’s overall tactical coherence.

The fact Redmayne was even selected in this Socceroos squad, after an unremarkable season with Sydney FC (Arnold’s former employer) was used as further evidence to support this argument.

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Still, as the timeline reacted viscerally to the substitution, it was actually Arnold who was showing the most guts.

And then the shoot-out started.

Martin Boyle missed Australia’s opening penalty, the worst possible start, and the heart sunk, the bile rose, and the teeth were bared and ready to gnash.

Subbing your goalkeeper off ahead of a penalty shoot-out is a risky move, but Socceroos manager Graham Arnold made it against Peru.(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Up walked Redmayne, whose trademark penalty-saving style involves dancing around the line, in the hopes of putting off the taker; it worked for him and Sydney FC in the 2019 A-League grand final.

But it wasn’t working here, at least not to start, as Peru slotted home its first two penalties.

There was an anxious streak to the reaction to Redmayne’s introduction.

It would be disappointing enough to lose a penalty shoot-out on the world stage, but to do so with your substitute kick dancing around like a long-lost Wiggle would add an unbearable layer of indignity.

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But then Luis Advíncula stepped up to take his penalty and after staring down Redmayne’s latest improvised gyrations, struck his shot against the post.

What had put him off? Redmayne’s dancing? It’s impossible to say for sure, but yes.

Australia was back on level terms in the shoot-out.

The next three Socceroos slotted home their spot kicks with aplomb, particularly Adjin Hrustic, whose droll roll oozed with the assuredness of a man who’d done this whole thing a few weeks earlier in the Europa League final with his club, Eintracht Frankfurt.

We were plunged into a sudden death situation where, by virtue of Australia having gone first, any Peruvian miss would send us to Qatar – it was all set up for Redmayne to dance his way to national glory.

And so he danced, and dove, and with a unyielding glove saved Alex Valera’s penalty.

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And with that, having resigned themselves to the lure of the bitter abyss, Sokkah Twitter was yanked headfirst into the throes of meme-based ecstasy, as Redmayne posed with a huge, cheesy grin on his face, and his teammates sprinted over to mob .

Suddenly humble pies were being put out to cool on the sills of grand houses of condemnation.

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Redmayne’s visage was plastered across the internet.

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And in Doha, Arnold had his hands on his head, his body coursing with pure relief, and no doubt some satisfaction too; his move had paid off.

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Of course, the coin-flip of a single penalty shoot-out doesn’t invalidate the criticism of Arnold, won’t catapult Redmayne into the first choice keeper’s position, or indeed improve Australia’s chances of doing well at the World Cup in Qatar.

But we’re there, we’re going, we’ve got a ticket to the big tourney.

Teetering on the knife edge between calamity and euphoria is often the natural resting place for football in this country.

And this morning, euphoria – and Andrew Redmayne – won out.

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