Ange Postecoglou Tottenham, Spurs manager. Coach’s origins in South Melbourne

Ange Postecoglou was working in a bank when his first head coaching job came at the expense of a legend. He ended the career of a close friend shortly after taking over at South Melbourne, writes ADAM PEACOCK.

Almost three decades ago, Ange Postecoglou was working in a bank when he got a life-changing call about a job in the English Premier League.

Westpac’s Clarendon St branch.

It was one of Postecoglou’s three jobs.

The banking job paid the bills, complemented by coaching at Melbourne Grammar and his true love, assistant coaching at South Melbourne.

But South Melbourne, in April 1996, was a mess. Legendary coach Frank Arok was fired during a board meeting.

The following morning, South Melbourne general manager Peter Filopolous had some news for Postecoglou, but had to wait until Ange took his morning tea break.

Eventually he showed up.

‘Ange, Frank’s gone. You’re the new manager, Filopolous told his friend.

Without emotion, Postecoglou responded with his customary “Thanks big boy” before giving Filopoulos a simple instruction.

“Tell the players, the staff, to come to the club tonight. Everyone should be there at 6:00 p.m. Mandatory.”

And with that, Postecoglou celebrated by going back to the bank to think about how to get the football team to the top.


Can this former player, whose career was ended by a bad knee injury aged 27, turn around South Melbourne’s fortunes at 31?

South Melbourne Council was initially unconvinced, but that in itself was an achievement of miraculous proportions.

The council consisted of 16 people, mostly first-generation Greeks, all of whom had stronger opinions than the next guy.

Filopoulos knew, however, that Postecoglou was the man.

Arok’s tenure ended in a disastrous 3-0 defeat to Marconi in Sydney and the former Socceroos coach knew what to expect when he dropped into his seat as the team bus turned into Sydney Airport.

The mood of the players was a lie. They were having fun, laughing and carrying on at the back of the bus.

Postecoglu, Arok’s assistant, struck, moving to the front of the bus to grab the microphone and let it rip.

“Hey guys, while you’re celebrating and joking,” Postecoglou fumed, “I just want to remind you what happened tonight.

“I have played in this club since I was 8 years old, I was the captain in two championships. No team I’ve been involved with has disgraced this jersey and this crest like you did tonight.”

The laughter stopped.


After Arok’s sacking, South Melbourne won two of their last three games under Angers to see out the 1995-96 season.

Hopes were high after the first full pre-season with Postecoglou’s side, but they slipped early, failing to win their first five games. The big, bloated board of 16 wasn’t convinced. They began to grumble that Postecoglou would be fired.

The smart ones held their nerve and Ange’s methods began to work. By the end of the season, Harav finished a respectable third.

But the next step required big decisions.

Postecoglou and Mike Peterson have known each other since childhood. They spent time together in South Melbourne and formed a close relationship.

Peterson, capped 32 times for the Socceroos, was a key player throughout the 1990s, but in 1997 Postecoglou could see the end of his friend and told him his career was over.

“I was pretty devastated at the time, but one thing that sticks out in my mind was the care and compassion with which he delivered it,” Peterson told CODE Sports.

“Every decision was made for the best of the team. He had a way of delivering it where you didn’t take it personally, you always felt part of the team. Those things are important.”

Postecoglou softened the blow by making Peterson his assistant. The company lives on to this day.

But the episode changed Postecoglou and he has kept a personal distance from his players ever since. Instead, he designed them to connect with motivational methods and clear instructions.

“He was a club captain at 21, 22,” says Peterson. “Then a manager at 31. He always had those intangible, intangible qualities of leadership.”

Peterson can’t stop smiling this week knowing what Tottenham have got.

“Proud. Gone is the word proud,” says Peterson.

“I find it remarkable how he navigates it. And playing the kind of football the fans love, collecting silverware on top.

“Amazed at what he has achieved. And what’s more, I believe Ange’s best chapter is yet to be written.”


Any player who has worked under Postecoglou will talk about one constant characteristic of how he prepares players.


Everything is ball these days.

In those early days in the South, old school methods were also part of Postecoglou’s philosophy.

Fausto de Amicis, a running machine of a defender, was poached by Postecoglou from rivals Melbourne Knights in the 1997-98 season. During the preseason, he wondered where the balls were.

“I was a typical whining Italian. “When we hit the ball,” De Amicis laughs now.

One evening, Postecoglou had the team ride Melbourne’s famous Tan track for a time trial.

“I was cursing, I saw them taking their time and I said you know where you can stick to those times, who cares,” says De Amicis.

The team returned to their nearby home field, Bob Jane Stadium (now Lakeside Stadium), to reveal the results.

De Amicis finished third and expected a bake from Postecoglou. Instead, it fell to a teammate who was a supremely gifted striker.

“I’m like, he’s beating the living daylights out of me. I moaned, insulted. He says that I was the third, then suddenly says: “AND YOU, GORAN LOZANOVSKI?” Look where you are next to this guy who hasn’t stopped giggling, cursing, complaining the whole time.

“And Loza thinks: “What does it have to do with me?” (Postecoglou continued). “At least (Fausto) is dealing with it. He whistled, but still ran as fast as he could.’

History has been kind to Postecoglou’s ways of setting application standards. South won the next two grand finals, with a team that played good football and never stopped running.

Winner of the Joe Marston Medal for the best player in those deciders.

Fausto de Amicis in 1998 and Goran Lozanovski in 1999.

“Ange made you respect the club,” de Amicis recalled.

“He made us respect the dressing rooms, we kept them clean. To him it was like you come here, you treat it like your home.

“He had the right authority, it wasn’t an arrogant authority, it was just the right amount for what he was doing.”


No pride in their man in South Melbourne today.

“He is considered our biggest achievement, our biggest star,” current South Melbourne president Bill Papastergiadis told CODE.

Papastergiadis went to university with Postecoglou, as did current Football Australia chairman Chris Nicku. They went to games together and remained friends.

“Those were his formative years as a person, player and coach,” Papastergiadis recalls.

“Ange worked in an environment driven and hungry for success that didn’t take a step back to become a national champion.

“It was everything to him because it was family, friends and football.”

Papastergiadis says South Melbourne will recognize Postecoglou’s contribution to the club in the near future, be it a grandstand, a statue or something else in his honour.

Like Postecoglou at Spurs, South Melbourne is excited about his future. The 64-year-old club, frustrated by being relegated from the A-League since 2005, are aiming to lead the way to the national second division, which is due to start in 2024.

“We are confident of success in the second division and we are taking back the strong support we had, so the stands are full again,” said Papastergiadis.

And maybe, one day on the track, Postecoglou will be somewhat back on track.

“I see a day when Ange revisits this place where it all began,” says Papastergiadis. “That would be a dream.”

Adam Peacock

Starting out as a cadet, Adam spent nearly a decade at the Seven Network before spending 15 years at Fox Sports covering football, tennis, cricket, the Olympics and running. Favorite teams are Socceroos, Matildas, Newcastle Utd, Manly, while hobbies include watching sports, eating food, sleeping and waking up to do the same.

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