Less than 18 months into his reign as Australia’s Socceroos head coach, Ange Postecoglou struck gold when his regenerated team hoisted the 2015 Asian Cup in front of 75,000 delirious football fans at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
It was Australian soccer’s finest moment, with victory coming in extra time to shut out South Korea 2-1.
For Postecoglou, who was born in Athens and migrated to Australia with his parents Jim and Voula aged five, the history-making victory provided a clear signal that the new generation Socceroos had begun an emphatic march forward to win international recognition.
Postecoglou played 193 senior games for South Melbourne between 1984 and 1993 and was appointed captain aged 22. With South Melbourne, he figured in two National Soccer League championship victories – in 1984 and 1990-1991. Having played for Australia at youth level in 1985, he graduated to the Socceroos in 1986, winning four caps in the next three seasons.
His coaching career began at the age of 30 and he won two back-to-back National Soccer League titles with South Melbourne (1997-1998; 1998-1999) as well as the Oceania Club Championship in 1999 by the age of 33. He was appointed coach of Australia’s youth teams in 2000 and, in 2009, took charge of the new Brisbane Roar team in the A-League, going on to claim back-to-back championships in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. During his time at the helm of Brisbane Roar, he established the longest undefeated sporting streak of 36 matches, passing the Sydney Roosters’ 19 game undefeated run in their 1974-1975 rugby league premiership triumphs.
Postecoglou was appointed Australia’s national coach in October 2013 on a five year deal, taking on the challenge of re-energising the Socceroos squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. With the Socceroos drawn in Group B alongside reigning champions Spain and 2010 runners-up Netherlands and Chile, the task was daunting. Even though Australia lost all three matches, the Socceroos were widely praised for their efforts in an exceptionally tough group – providing belief that better days certainly lay ahead.
As a youngster growing up in Melbourne, Ange Postecoglou showed early interest in AFL and basketball, only to have these directions short-circuited to soccer through the influence of his father, Jim.
As Ange once recalled: “I supported Carlton in the AFL and I wanted to play footy at school, and I remember I came home with a most-improved trophy and showed my dad really proudly. He just gave me this look of disgust and grabbed a soccer ball and said: ‘Let’s go to the park’.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
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