Scotland has become a second home for Australian footballers, with more than a quarter of the Socceroos’ World Cup squad currently plying their trade in the SPL.
But it’s the man at the helm of the nation’s biggest club who is having the biggest impact on Australian football, says Socceroos legend John Aloisi.
Nathan Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Cameron Devlin, Aaron Mooy and Kye Rowles are scattered across Scottish clubs at the moment, while several others have previously played there. The SPL is currently rated as the ninth-best league in Europe.
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Western United boss Aloisi says it’s more circumstantial than anything else that so many of the Socceroos are playing north of England.
But he did identify Celtic manager – and former Socceroos coach – Ange Postecoglou as the driving force behind more Australians getting chances to coach.
“It’s a good league, and it’s a competitive league – but if you look we haven’t got anyone in the Premier League, we’ve only got [Awer] Mabil in La Liga … it’s more of a coincidence,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“Ange has opened doors for, I believe, more Australian coaches going overseas and doing well and showing what we’re capable of doing.”
Aloisi’s team is the reigning A-League champion, while Kevin Muscat secured the J-League title last week with Yokohama F Marinos, and there are plenty of others dotted around men’s and women’s football in Europe.
The Socceroos legend says that the global shift in both football consumption and technology has allowed more open-mindedness, but also said Postecoglou’s success as a relative trailblazer had been pivotal.
“We did it as players, so I can’t see why we can’t do it as managers and coaches. We love the game, we’re very knowledgeable about the game and our work ethic is second to none, and to be a top manager, I think you have to have that work ethic,” Aloisi said.
“It’s exciting because it gives everyone belief that hopefully one day they can manage at a top European level, and around the world – and that’s what we’re all striving for.”
It’s certainly a far cry from the days when even the legendary Arsene Wenger was scoffed at when he was given the Arsenal job after a stint in the far East with Grampus Nagoya.
“It’s changed because the world’s opened up a lot, so people know what’s going on around the world a lot more,” Aloisi said.
“I remember when I was in England, foreign managers? There weren’t a lot, and people sort of frowned upon Wenger when he first arrived because (they were asking) ‘who’s he? He managed in Japan, where’s Japan?’ – that sort of thing.
“Whereas now the world understands that with football, the quality is all around the world.”
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Where are they now? The historic Socceroos squad that went to the 2006 FIFA World Cup