Australian football icon Johnny Warren died on Saturday 6 November aged 61 after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

Born in Sydney on May 17, 1943, Warren captained Australia to its only appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals in Germany in 1974 and played in 42 internationals for his country from 1965 to 1974.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said on hearing the news: "It is with immense sadness that I have learned of the death of Johnny Warren. He was a marvellous ambassador for the sport of football throughout Australia who he led to its first and so far only appearance on the greatest stage, the FIFA World Cup."

He was a passionate advocate for the sport in Australia and helped form the revamped Australian Premier League competition, which will kick off next August.

During the FIFA President's trip to Oceania in July, the President made a special stop-over in Sydney to present the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit to Mr Warren for his long-standing contributions to the beautiful game 'down under'.

Warren had joined a distinguished list of stars honoured with this medal including Pele (Brazil), John Cruyff (Netherlands), Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) and Eusebio (Portugal).

"I want Australia to embrace this fabulous game," Warren said on receiving the honour.

Warren will be granted a funeral by his home state, the New South Wales government said on Monday. State funerals are usually reserved for former premiers and Chief Justices but are also granted to "distinguished citizens".

"Johnny Warren was a great Australian," NSW Premier Bob Carr said in a statement.

"He was Mr Football - the man with vision and passion for developing the 'world game' in Australia."
Warren became the first Australian soccer personality to be presented with an MBE award in 1974 and in 1988 he was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame.