Greek Australian, Ange Postecoglou, has innumerable obstacles to overcome after taking on the manager role at Celtic, a football team which spectacularly fell from its perch last season.
But Postecoglou’s life lessons as a Greek migrant resettling in Australia, coupled with his immersion in football from a young age and his coaching prowess, have prepared him.
Speaking with The Scotsman, the Celtic manager credited all these lessons to his mum and dad, Jim and Voula, who made “unending sacrifices” for him when they first made the move from Athens, Greece to Australia.
“I look at myself now, as a 55-year-old man, and I just can’t believe what my parents went through. What they would have gone through to take a young family halfway round the world, on a ship that takes us 30 days to a country where they don’t speak the language, they don’t know a soul, they don’t have a house, they don’t have job,” Postecoglou tells The Scotsman.
“People say they go to another country for a better life. My parents did not have a better life, they went to Australia to provide opportunities for me to have a better life.
“All I remember is my father working hard. He’d be gone for work before I ate my breakfast and come home at night, have dinner, sit on the couch and fall asleep and go and do the same thing the next day.
“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… so if I love this like he does, it will get me close to him.”
‘He was my harshest critic’:
Postecoglou goes on to say that from the youngest age, he developed an “encyclopedic knowledge” of football in the UK, ensuring he “nourished” his “brain with everything about football from this side of the world.”
At the same time, he’d spend hours sitting next to his dad at three o’clock in the morning watching the football and listening to him point out the entertainers and the teams that were scoring goals.
It was this bond which motivates Postecoglou to produce teams which his dad would enjoy watching.
“It’s a simple premise. It’s important to me because that was the driver for my whole football career. He was my harshest critic and probably all of you have similar kinds of dads. My dad never told me he loved me, he didn’t give me cuddles. He was my biggest critic all the time,” he told The Scotsman.
“He’s not with us now, he passed away a couple of years ago, but he’s in my head. 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.’
“I don’t think that’s unique, I think a lot of people resonate with that, understand that was how it was in my generation through having a similar upbringing. I just happen to be in a position where I can live that dream out.”
Source: The Scotsman.