Ange Postecoglou has revealed he almost gave up waiting for an opportunity to coach in Europe because he was being judged by his passport, opening up on a series of “disheartening” talks with other clubs before finally landing the job at Celtic.
Postecoglou has thrown himself straight into work after being officially unveiled in Glasgow a week ago. He is busy scouring the transfer market for squad reinforcements with Celtic’s first match of the new season – a UEFA Champions League qualifier against Danish club FC Midtjylland – less than three weeks away.
Ange Postecoglou is continuing to blaze a trail for Australian coaches overseas – but he longs for the day that he’ll be judged on what he’s done, not where he’s from.Credit:Getty
The former Socceroos boss said he was buzzing about how many fans from across Australia had decided to “come along for the ride” and follow his trail-blazing journey in Scotland, which he acknowledged could open doors for other Aussie coaches if he is successful.
But it was hard enough for him to get his own foot in the door, despite a glittering resume which includes five domestic titles in two different countries as well as the 2015 Asian Cup, and a rock-solid reputation as one of Asia’s top coaches.
Postecoglou, 55, has long coveted a role in Europe but said other clubs he’d had discussions with were dismissive of the trophies he had won because of where he won them.
“It was just that [my] achievements were swiped away pretty easily because of the fact that they were on the other side of the world,” he said in a Zoom call with Australian media.
My achievements even in my own country weren’t valued because apparently I hadn’t coached in Europe. Hopefully this breaks a few myths.
“It was disheartening not from the point of view that I felt like it lessened me, it was just disheartening that you thought, ‘well, that would have been a great opportunity for me to go in and create something special again.’
“The fact that people couldn’t see past geography to do that … I got to the point where I didn’t want to waste my time any more and think about those things. I was happy to wait for the right opportunity if it came along, and if it didn’t, I’d continue doing what I was doing until I finished.
“At the same time, there was never any doubt that people were taking notice and I guess after a while, people do just look at [my] record.
“The world’s becoming a smaller place and hopefully this does show, if I happen to be successful, that clubs all around the world will start opening their mind a little bit when they’re seeing talent – whether that’s on or off the football field, they’ll look beyond just traditional markets.”
Postecoglou also pointed out that, paradoxically, he faced the same issues back home, where he railed against a perceived inferiority complex within Australian soccer for many years, and struggled to find a job in the A-League despite having won two NSL titles with South Melbourne until Brisbane Roar famously gave him another chance.
“I’m hoping I get to the point where people don’t look at me as an Australian coach – hopefully not even in Australia because that was as frustrating for me as any other place,” he said.
“My achievements even in my own country weren’t valued because apparently I hadn’t coached in Europe. Hopefully this breaks a few myths and preconceptions about it.
“I think once you tag somebody with some sort of stigma that because I’m Australian, what I’m doing is unbelievable, I think it works against everything I’ve been trying to advocate – and that is, it shouldn’t matter where you come from.”
Postecoglou declined to directly address reports linking Celtic with a move for Australian stars Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy, but said he was on the lookout anywhere in the world for any players who would fit into his trademark style of attacking play.
He played a similarly straight bat to questions on the make-up of his backroom team, with Adelaide United assistant coach Ross Aloisi reportedly in the mix to join him in Glasgow.
Postecoglou will meet his full squad for the first time next week, when Celtic holds a training camp in Wales featuring all senior players – including the club’s Scottish representatives, who have been given extra time off after playing in the Euros.
“It’s great being here. They’re passionate about football, I’m passionate about football. Just to be here is fantastic,” Postecoglou said.
“To be fair, I’ve just done training ground-hotel for the last seven days. It’s been pretty busy. I haven’t had much of a chance to get out and about but all the people I’ve come across have been very, very encouraging.
“I’m looking forward to the key part, which is seeing our supporters at Celtic Park, because that’s the one thing people make sure I understand is going to be a special experience.”
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