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Spurred to succeed from humble roots

Updated: 2023-06-08 09:36
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New Tottenham boss Postecoglou has come a long way since his immigrant upbringing in Australia

Ange Postecoglou waves to the Celtic fans following what proved to be his final game as manager of the Glasgow club — Saturday's Scottish Cup final victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden Park in Glasgow. ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS

Ange Postecoglou comes from humble roots. The 57-year-old arrived in Australia by boat as a little boy, but now finds himself installed in one of the biggest jobs in the English Premier League.

The 57-year-old Australian was named Tottenham Hotspur manager on Tuesday, having won five trophies in two seasons at Celtic, including the Scottish treble this year.

Athens-born Postecoglou may represent a disappointment to Spurs fans demanding a "bigger name", but he knows what success is, having lifted league titles in three different countries.

Championship glory first came with South Melbourne and Brisbane Roar in Australia, then Japan's Yokohama F. Marinos, before defying skeptics to excel in Scotland.

The no-nonsense Postecoglou also had a successful stint of four years as Australia coach that included winning the 2015 Asian Cup.

Former Everton star Tim Cahill played for the Socceroos under Postecoglou and said his "leadership and beliefs are infectious".

"The most important part was the belief he instilled in us to play a style of football that could test any team we came up against," said Cahill.

Doing dad proud

Postecoglou was born in the Greek capital Athens before his family emigrated to Australia by boat in 1970 when he was 5, settling in Melbourne.

His parents wanted to give their son a better life than the one they had in Greece.

"There was a never-ending struggle there to establish ourselves," he told Sky Sports last year.

"He (dad) was working day and night, my mom was working, we were at school, we were saving money to buy a house. We shared a house with another family for a number of years."

Postecoglou told The Scotsman newspaper his hardworking father had been hugely influential both in his life and soccer philosophy.

"The only time I ever got to see any joy in my dad was when we went to the football on a Sunday. So that did make an impression on me because I made a quick connection that football is something that makes him happy," he said.

It was this bond that has driven Postecoglou to produce teams playing the type of attractive and attacking soccer that his dad enjoyed watching.

"He's not with us now, he passed away a couple of years ago, but he's in my head," he said. "I know that and every time my team plays, I'll sometimes have an ugly 1-0 win and I know what he's saying, 'Don't celebrate because that was crap.'"

J-League legacy

As a player, Postecoglou was a defender for South Melbourne in the National Soccer League between 1984 and 1993, winning two championship titles, the latter as the team's captain.

He won four caps for Australia before a knee injury prematurely ended his playing career.

South Melbourne gave him his first coaching break in 1996, which he grabbed with both hands to win back-to-back league titles.

As his stature grew, he took over as coach of the Australia Under-20 team before a year in Greece with Panachaiki, ahead of a return home with Brisbane Roar.

After leading Roar to the A-League title and being named coach of the year, he was poached by Melbourne Victory, then the Socceroos in 2013.

In 2018 he took over at Yokohama F. Marinos in the J-League, where he finished 12th in his first season, and in the next campaign they claimed the title for the first time in 15 years.

Yokohama fans loved the team's swashbuckling style and Postecoglou's commitment and passion.

"People who watch Marinos now know what to expect in terms of our football, know that we won't change our approach, that we believe in something as a football club," he said before leaving for Celtic in 2021.

"I think that was the most important thing for me."

Postecoglou was determined to leave a legacy in Yokohama and his successor, compatriot Kevin Muscat, went on to win the J-League in 2022.


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