FORMER South Melbourne championship coach Ange Postecoglou is blazing a trail for Australian soccer managers by moving to Europe to take over at a struggling Greek club.
Postecoglou, who won titles with South in the National Soccer League in the late 1990s and then coached the Australian under-17 and under-20 teams, will take charge at Panachaikai, a third division club, this weekend.
The club is owned by Adelaide-based Greek-Australian Con Makris, who, says Postecoglou, initially approached him about taking over two seasons ago.
"At that time, I was a bit keen to take a break from coaching after my period with the national teams and I wanted to see how the A-League developed … But he approached me again last week and asked if I was interested and I said I would be."
Postecoglou made his mind up to take the job after flying to Greece last weekend.
"It should be an interesting challenge and it gives me the chance to try and get established as a coach in Europe. The club is in the third division — they got relegated last year — but Con has plans to invest and get it back up to the higher leagues. They used to be a first-division side and played in the UEFA Cup in the 1970s and 1980s," he said.
"All of my football experience has been gained in Australia … this is a great opportunity to further my own development and maybe help raise the profile of Australian football …"
Good luck to Ange. As one of the few ex-South players or coaches who didn't leave the club on bad terms, and who still enthusiastically hangs around the club, South of the Border has no hesitation in wishing him all the best, especially in having to deal with Con Makris, surely one of the most despised people to have ever had involvement with Australian soccer, especially amongst supporters of West Adelaide Hellas (who have reformed their senior teams after many years absence under the name West Adelaide Blues). And it would be nice to also start exporting coaches overseas as opposed to just players. This would indicate truly for mine that Australia is a growing soccer power.