The Socceroos example that shows Celtic boss Postecoglou loves to take risks

By Euan Davidson

July 2, 2021

When Celtic boss and former Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou arrived at Paradise, he said several interesting things.

Perhaps chief amongst them, though, was the following [Celtic FC]:

“I want to get really involved in the Academy process and see where they’re at. They’ve produced some fantastic footballers in recent times. My job is to give those footballers an opportunity and make them realise their potential. For me, age is irrelevant, it’s about players who are really ambitious and want to produce something special.”

It’s something nearly every manager promises when they arrive at a big club. We’re going to sign players, we’re going to play good football, we’re going to use young players. So on, and so forth. But there’s a really good example of Ange Postecoglou practicing what he preaches, and it came at international level.

When Postecoglou was Australia boss, he handed a cap to a player who hadn’t made his professional debut yet.

In 2015, Chris Ikonomidis had started making waves at youth level. A member of the Lazio academy, the versatile attacker scored 13 goals in 18 games in the Italian Primavera C [Transfermarkt]. Around the same time he was banging them in for the Socceroos’ U20s, scoring 5 in 9.

So, in March 2015, needing some thrust in the Australia attack, Postecoglou made an incredibly bold, but very wise decision; he called Ikonomidis up for his first-team debut.

Former Socceroos boss Postecoglou means what he says

Given all the bluster and hyperbole in modern football, again, it’s easy to just say things. However, Ange Postecoglou was willing to take incredible risks at international level, for a nation that expects a lot from their football team. That shows utter commitment to his core values.

Chris Ikonomidis battles for Australia / (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It’s an incredibly good sign for the Celtic Academy. Work hard, and you could be on the pitch for Celtic in the first-team. It’s extremely good motivation for any of the fringe players who were frustrated by lack of opportunity in 20-21.

The likes of new Bhoy Osaze Urhoghide, Liam Shaw, Luca Connell and Academy talents like Jonathon Afolabi, Kerr McInroy and Ewan Otoo will surely be paying attention.

As for Ikonomidis? After winning a Super Cup with Lazio, the forward moved back to Australia. He’s still prolific, scoring with regularity for Perth Glory in the A-League. However you perceive his career to have gone, or your opinion of the A-League, Ikonomidis is a man with 12 caps, trusted by his international boss before he’d even made a professional start.

That’s the kind of manager we have now.

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