Who is Graham Arnold, the Australian head coach heading into this World Cup?

Who is Graham Arnold, the Australian head coach heading into this World Cup?

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:17 PM

Born in Sydney, Australia, Graham Arnold is one of the 32 coaches who will lead their teams in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He was also part of the Australian coaching staff in the 2006 and 2010 editions of the tournament. Graham steered the Socceroos to victories over UAE and Peru to secure a slot in the global event. His main task now is leading the nation to success in Qatar.

Graham Arnold's age
Socceroos' coach Graham Arnold speaks during the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola at Allianz Stadium on 29th August 2022, in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Matt King
Source: Getty Images

Before becoming a coach, the Aussie was a professional footballer who played for the national team and several clubs in Australia, Europe and Asia. He is married and has three daughters. We narrate Graham Arnold's story, from his humble childhood beginning to becoming a national hero ahead of the World Cup.

Graham Arnold's profile


Graham James Arnold

Date of Birth

3 August 1963


59 (as of November 2022)

Place of birth

Sydney, Australia




1.83 m


82 kg


Football coach, former professional footballer

Current team coaching



Faye, Barry






Kirstie, Elissa, Danielle

Annual salary

$1.3 million

Net worth

$1 million - $2 million

Who are Graham Arnold's parents?

Graham Arnold (age 59 as of November 2022) was born to Faye and Barry. He was brought up alongside his elder brother, Colin. Their family stayed in a converted garage below his grandmother's house in Sylvania, Sydney's south, for 23 years.

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Arnold's father was alcoholic and abusive. Sometimes, he would make his son walk home from the game when he failed to score enough goals. Unfortunately, he died when Graham was 25 after suffering a heart attack, five years after his wife succumbed to cancer.

Graham Arnold's family

Graham Arnold's family
Former Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold with his wife, Sarah, posing for pictures ahead of the 2016 FFA Dolan Warren Awards at Carriageworks on 26th April 2016, in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
Source: Getty Images

Graham Arnold's wife, Sarah, is of Australian nationality and does not like public attention. They have three daughters, Kirstie (33), Elissa (31), and Danielle (27). In 2017, Graham Arnold's daughter, Elissa, married Australian footballer Trent Sainsbury. Trent plays for Al-Wakrah SC in Qatar Stars League as a centre-back.

Did Graham Arnold play football?

Arnold was a lethal striker known for his goal-scoring abilities. He bagged over 150 goals during his career. The coach started his playing career with junior leagues before joining Canterbury Marrickville. In 1982, the Aussie moved to Sydney United where he spent eight years. He played 178 games and netted 67 times for the club. In 1986, he was named the NSL Player of the Year and the top scorer with 17 goals.

Did Graham Arnold play football?
G.Arnold of Sanfrecce Hiroshima shoots at goal during the J.League first stage match against Jubilo Iwata at the Jubilo Iwata Stadium on 12th April 1997, in Iwata, Shizuoka, Japan. Photo: J.League
Source: Getty Images

Graham also played for several clubs in Belgium, Japan and Holland, including Roda JC, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, and NAC Breda. He also played for the national team in tournaments like the 1988 Olympic Games and Bi-Centenary Gold Cup. He also featured in 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns.

Graham Arnold's teams coached

Graham Arnold's coaching career started in 1998 when he was appointed player/manager of the Northern Spirit FC. He was later appointed assistant coach of the Australian national team from 2000 until 2006.

Graham Arnold's coaching career
Australian head coach Graham Arnold instructs his players during the Olympic Games qualifying match vs Iraq at Bluetongue Central Coast on 17 November 2007, in Gosford, Australia. Photo: Corey Davis
Source: Getty Images

In 2010, the veteran tactician joined Central Coast Mariners of the A-League Men and guided them to two Premierships and a Championship. He took over Sydney FC in 2014 and won two A-League Premierships, a Championship, and an FFA Cup in four years. Graham also won the A-League's Coach of the Year award on three occasions.

Australia national team

Arnold was appointed Australia's U-23 manager in 2018 and guided them to their first Olympics games in 12 years in Tokyo 2020. He later took over the national team after serving as an assistant under Frank Farina and Guus Hiddink. He was also a caretaker manager for some time.

"We did a team identity when I first started, and it was the responsibility of the players to come up with a team identity, which I think that covers the nation, and it's many journeys, one jersey." Arnold said. "So many of the players have been through different lives and hard ways and we've all gelled together as one, and that's the most important thing."

Journey to World Cup 2022

Australia finished third in their World Cup qualifying group behind Saudi Arabia and Japan. As a result, they had to go through the play-off to secure a slot in Qatar. Their first test was against the UAE, where they won 2-1 thanks to goals from Jackson Irvine and Ajdin Hrustic.

The Socceroos then faced Peru in a hotly-contested intercontinental play-off clash. Andrew Redmayne's heroic save in the penalty shoot-out sealed Australia's Qatar dream after the match ended in a stalemate.

Snubbing son-in-law

Graham Arnold's story
Elijah Just (L) of New Zealand competes for the ball against Trent Sainsbury of Australia during a friendly match at Suncorp Stadium on 22nd September 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. Photo: Matt Roberts
Source: Getty Images

Graham named his 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup but surprisingly left out his son-in-law, Trent Sainsbury. Elissa's husband is considered among the best centre-backs in the country, but his father opted against picking him.

"Obviously it was a very, very difficult decision," Graham said. "I've spoken to Trent about where he is at right now, he has not played for a number of weeks. He was very understanding of the situation but it's a decision that, again, is hard to make."

Graham Arnold's tactics

Graham Arnold's stats and achievements with his teams reflect his genius tactics and mastermind. He is known for his attacking style of play. The tactician prefers using the 4-2-3-1 formation, which utilizes the wingers to create more goal-scoring opportunities. He has occasionally deployed defensive set-ups like the 4-5-1 against Peru in their recent play-off match.

The Socceroos are in group D of the World Cup, where they will play France, Denmark, and Tunisia. Therefore, Graham will require a more combative approach to upset group favourites France and Denmark.

Graham Arnold's net worth and salary

The Aussie is paid an annual salary of $1.3 million as head coach. He is the 12th highest-paid coach in the 2022 World Cup. According to sources, his net worth ranges between $1 million-$2 million.

Australia has never gone past the round of 16 in the World Cup, and Graham Arnold could be the man to break the curse. He has assembled a depth of great talents and young players with the potential to reach far in the tournament.

READ ALSO: FIFA World Cup 2022 anthem: What is the official song of FIFA World Cup 2022?

Sportsbrief.com also brought you all the details about the 2022 FIFA World Cup anthem, the official song that will lighten up the tournament. Even though the main activities are carried out on the pitch, other factors should be considered leading to the main event, and the FIFA World Cup 2022 anthem is one of them.

Besides the anthem, there will also be an opening ceremony with various artists' performances before the tournament. The link above has everything you need to know ahead of the prestigious event.

Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.