Ange Postecoglou is the toast of the football world, taking an unbeaten Tottenham to its best ever start to a Premier League campaign.
But the Australian had admitted he would have never made it to the Premier League in the first place had he continued on as the national team’s head coach.
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Speaking to reporters ahead of Australia’s friendly against England on Wembley on Saturday, a reflective Postecoglou had a sobering reality check when touching on the Matildas’ recent World Cup success.
“It didn’t make an impact back there and that was kind of my frustration,” he told media, including The Telegraph UK, speaking on his 2015 AFC Asian Cup win in Australia.
“I don’t think that anything they can achieve… when you look at what the Matildas did at the World Cup, unbelievable but you still won’t see an influx of resources to the game. You won’t. I guarantee it.
“They’ll build stadiums and other codes will use them. I just don’t think the nation as a whole has that inside them to understand you can make an impact on the world of football but it requires a kind of nationalistic approach that I just don’t think Australians — at their core — are really interested in.”
It is consistent with what Postecoglou told reporters ahead of the World Cup earlier this year, warning what truly mattered was whether the game would “take advantage” of strong results.
“Where it is right now it’s where it’s been many times. It’s what happens from now on,” he said at the time.
“Australian football has been pretty good, always, at making a mark. Sonny mentioned 2015 – we won the Asian Cup and barely a ripple.
“… It’s about the game taking advantage of that and making an indelible footprint in the sporting landscape here, which we know is always challenging.”
And when asked why that was the case before this week’s friendly, Postecoglou pointed towards the traditional domination of other sports such as Australian rules football and rugby.
“There’s a couple of things,” he said.
“One of them is obviously the sporting landscape, where there’s some pretty strong codes there that have generationally dominated the landscape.
“There’s Aussie Rules, that’s the indigenous sport of Australia. It’s kind of unique to them and they take great pride in protecting as their code. The rugby codes dominate.
“It’s very hard for football to make an impact in that space and I guess then the flipside of that is just how global the sport of football is.
“If I can compare that to a country like Japan, who also have the tyranny of distance and baseball’s pretty strong, they plant a lot of resources into football and you can see that’s making an impact. I don’t see Australia down that road.”
Even Postecoglou’s own success at Tottenham, which has been historic, may not be enough to break new ground in the sport back home according to the man himself.
“I don’t know and maybe that’s just me,” he said.
“Not being cynical, but I gave up that fight. It’s a much easier space for me to live in because I was so frustrated for so long. It was my biggest frustration.
“One of my major drivers for doing what I did was to do that — to change football in Australia and that’s the reason I left.
“I felt I hadn’t made an impact at all. That’s easier for me to deal with than to think maybe I still can now with what I’m doing. I just think I’d be disappointed, so I’d prefer to think it’s not going to happen.
“I walked away from a World Cup. We qualified and I walked away. The reason I walked away was I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing.
“It’s not just doing the job and winning games of football, it’s got to be a higher purpose. My higher purpose in Australia was to change the game. I just don’t think that will happen.
“It was the right decision for me, it was the right decision for where I saw the next stage of my career and if I didn’t make that decision at that time, if I had waited until after the World Cup, I’ve got no doubt I wouldn’t be sitting here now.”
While largely a serious and quite sombre taken on the state of Australian football, Postecoglou did briefly lighten the mood when the prospect of coaching England’s national team was floated.
“England? Oh, come on mate,” he laughed.
“They’ve got a fantastic manager and I’m eight games into a Tottenham career. That’s how I think.”
Originally published as ‘Gave up that fight’: Ange Postecoglou reveals sad truth behind state of Australian football