The superb untold story of how Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou won his first managerial gig

By David Walton

November 15, 2021

Former South Melbourne general manager Peter Filopoulos has told the brilliant story of how Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou earned his first gig in management.

Postecoglou, at the age of 56, is looking to make his name in Europe with the Hoops and pave the way for more Australian coaches to be given an opportunity.

So far, he’s made a big impression. He’s managed to oversee a major squad overhaul in the summer whilst stamping an attractive style of play on the team whilst producing an upturn in both performances and results.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

However, the gig that started it all for Ange was his first role at South Melbourne back in 1996. And the Hoops boss had to show extreme initiative to bag the role as told by Filopoulos.

As quoted by Keep Up, Filopoulos recalled: “I’d be in the board meetings as a general manager, and they’d be speaking about Zoran Matic and [former Australia coach] Raul Blanco, all those big names of the time. Ange came into the office and he wasn’t really mentioned around the table. They all thought he’d automatically be an assistant.

“He goes to me what’s going on with the coaching gig? And me naively, I said we had a meeting last night and we’re talking about Matic and Blanco. And Ange goes, ‘What about me big fella?’ I said, ‘Are you interested?’ He said ‘Yes I am, I am interested’. I said, ‘Well Ange, if you’re interested, you need to make it known’. I thought, I wonder what the young fellas thought. We had the younger committee members and older ones. I remember ringing up some committee members and I threw Ange’s name in the mix and over a few conversations, you have to give him a chance to present.

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“So what I did back then, we were a very close-knit social group, the younger guys and I set up a barbecue at my place. The coaching conversation came up. And everyone’s talking about those big names again. And then Ange said, ‘You know I’m interested right?’ And someone said, ‘What? Are you really interested?’ Ange started talking about his philosophy and ideas. It went for like 30 minutes. It was like a full-on pitch without knowing it was a pitch. He finished and it was dead silence. The vice-president at the time said ‘Ange you’re our f****** coach mate’. That was it. We lobbied hard and got him through. It was tough to get it through. There were some really older guys who weren’t convinced.”

Ange Postecoglou has come a lot further in management than many realise

The narrative in Britain is that Postecoglou is only now just starting to make a name for himself. And whilst that’s true if you’re isolating these shores and perhaps European football as a whole, the truth is he’s been making a big impact for a lot longer than many realise.

Postecoglou’s first gig in management came all the way back in 1996. He’s anything but a rookie. We’re talking over 25 years of managerial experience to his name. And the success he’s had is absolutely incredible. There’s a reason he’s deemed the most successful Australian coach in history.

Whether it be his A-League success after ripping up and rebuilding the Brisbane Roar team. Whether it be his surreal J-League success with Yokohama Marinos. Or whether it be taking Australia to a World Cup – Postecoglou has plenty of success attached to his name.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It’s clear that he’s had to show strong initiative in the past too. For example, if he didn’t put his name forward for that South Melbourne job back in 96, would he be here at Celtic Park? It’s highly unlikely to say the least.

The only difference between Postecoglou and some of Europe’s more successful managers is that his wasn’t achieved on this continent. And granted, it’s undoubtedly at a lower level outside of Europe. But regardless, he’s still having to build teams and win titles.

Postecoglou has more than earned his opportunity to manage at Parkhead. And should he end up securing the Premiership title for Celtic, his stock will rise even further.

In other news, Celtic star says he’s “living the dream” on international duty alongside Real Madrid hero