What this Celtic appointment means for Australian football

By Euan Davidson

June 10, 2021

Make absolutely no mistake, Celtic are a global football club.

We have fans everywhere, from the west coast of the US to the far reaches of New Zealand. Our reach is genuinely worldwide, and when Ange Postecoglou said he had Kenny Dalglish posters on his wall, it was hardly a surprise. If you wanted to be cynical, you could argue that statement has a touch of Robbie Keane about it [Standard].

But if you thought this being a big deal was limited to Scotland, then that’s definitely not the case. As far as Australian football fans are concerned, this is the biggest appointment in their footballing history. Postecoglou is absolutely adored in Australia.

In fact, they see him as one of the greats, akin to Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruijff [Sydney Morning Herald].

Our mate Vince Rugari, of the Sydney Morning Herald, described the appointment as “easily the highest-profile coaching move ever made by an Australian”. The nearest comparison, in the UK anyway, is Harry Kewell at Notts County. This is entirely different stuff.

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So, no pressure on him. But the interest from Australia is going to be intense. Think Shunsuke Nakamura’s immense popularity in Japan, and the crowds of supporters who came to Celtic Park to watch the former Reggina man play in the Hoops.

Celtic star Tom Rogic with Ange Postecoglou / (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Ange Postecoglou at Celtic could open the door for his contemporaries

Australians in European management haven’t had the best time of it. Kevin Muscat didn’t too well in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League [The World Game]. Fellow former Socceroo Tony Popovic didn’t fare much better at Xanthi, in Greece’s second tier. It’s hardly an impressive precedent.

That said, the difference is that Postecoglou has won everywhere he’s been. Barring one odd spell in Greece, Big Ange has been a success across his 25-year career. And it speaks volumes that the Australian FA are getting excited, too.

Yet, Australia is a massive country, with a decent footballing heritage. They regularly qualify for World Cups. Some of their players have been stars in top European leagues. It’s actually quite strange that more Australian managers haven’t made their mark in Europe, despite so many playing here.

Perhaps it’s a fear of the unknown. And Postecoglou will be aware that he needs to do well, because he’s carrying the expectation of a nation on his back. That’s no exaggeration. The pressure on the guy is immense, from all quarters.

But if he nails this, and gets Celtic playing winning football, with style and verve, then it’s going to open up the doors for an entire footballing culture. The new Bhoys boss will be more aware of that than anyone. It’s just another, of many reasons, for the former Socceroos boss to get this right.

READ MORE: Ange’s first words to the Celtic fans