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Paul Okon
Okon coaching the Australia youth
Personal information
Full name Paul Michael Okon
Date of birth (1972-04-05) 5 April 1972 (age 51)
Place of birth Sydney, Australia
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Defender, midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1991 Marconi Stallions 49 (4)
1991–1996 Club Brugge 72 (1)
1996–1999 Lazio 19 (0)
1999–2000 Fiorentina 11 (0)
2000–2002 Middlesbrough 28 (0)
2002Watford (loan) 15 (0)
2002–2003 Leeds United 15 (0)
2003–2004 Vicenza 28 (2)
2004–2005 Oostende 33 (0)
2005–2006 APOEL 9 (0)
2006–2007 Newcastle Jets 17 (0)
Total 296 (9)
International career
1991 Australia U20 4 (0)
1992 Australia U23 3 (0)
1991–2003 Australia 28 (0)
Managerial career
2008–2009 APIA Leichhardt (interim)
2009 Australia U18
2009–2010 Gold Coast United (assistant)
2012–2016 Australia U20
2012–2016 Australia U23 (assistant)
2016–2018 Central Coast Mariners
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Paul Michael Okon (born 5 April 1972) is a former Australian soccer player who played as a defender or midfielder. He has Belgian citizenship.

He previously captained the Australia national team and has represented Australia Olympic Football Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Okon's career began at Marconi Stallions in the old NSL in Australia. He then went on to play at many European clubs including Lazio and Fiorentina in Italy's Serie A, Vicenza in Serie B, Middlesbrough and Leeds United in the English Premiership, Club Brugge, Oostende in Belgium's Jupiler League and APOEL in the Cypriot First Division. Okon was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2009, for his services to football in Australia.[1] During his time in Belgium, Okon acquired citizenship of the country.

Club career

Okon grew up in a Sydney suburb of Bossley Park. He is of German and Italian descent. He represented his high school, Patrician Brothers' College, Fairfield during his time as a teenage schoolboy and featured prominently in all teams including the A Grade squad. However, his abilities did not stop at the football pitch. He set the record for high jump at the college's annual athletics carnival in the under 16s age group which was not broken until 2004.

Okon left Marconi Stallions in 1991 for Club Brugge, and due to a series of excellent performances at sweeper won the Belgian Golden Shoe (95/96), the Belgian Jupiler league (95/96) and two Belgian Cups (94/95 and 95/96). These performances captured the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs, and in 1996 Dino Zoff – then coach of Italian giants Lazio – flew out to Belgium to personally sign the Australian, stipulating in his contract that Okon would play sweeper and promising first team football. However, with the departure of Roberto Di Matteo to Chelsea – forcing him to play in midfield – and a succession of knee injuries (a problem caused by a misaligned pelvis, the result of a childhood car-crash) resulted in game-time being limited. While he did return for the 1999 Scudetto decider (playing in one of the final games of the season against Juventus, which Lazio lost, handing the title to Milan), that summer he departed the Roman club.

This began a turbulent chapter of Okon's career, with spells at Fiorentina, Middlesbrough, Leeds United and Vicenza before returning to the country where he made his name with Oostende in 2004. After a brief spell with APOEL in Cyprus, Okon returned to Australia.

He signed with A-League club Newcastle United Jets for the 2006–07 season.[2] Okon fit into a well-constructed Jets side and helped then make the play-offs in 2007. Due to injury concerns, Okon decided to retire from professional football in June 2007.[3] Okon played for amateur team West Ryde Rovers' over-35 Division 1 team in the GHFA.[4][5]

Managerial career

On 24 June 2008, along with Alex Tobin, Alistair Edwards and Nicola Williams, Okon was a recipient of an inaugural three-year scholarship under the Elite Coaching Development Program led by the FFA. As part of the program, Okon spent time at Coverciano with the Italian U-23 side under Pierluigi Casiraghi in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games, and spent a stint studying the youth setup of PSV Eindhoven.[6][7][8]

On 2 September 2008, Okon was appointed assistant coach to Miron Bleiberg at Gold Coast United for their inaugural season.[9] Before taking up his new role he took up an interim coaching role at APIA Leichhardt for their 2009 NSW Premier League season.[10]

On 30 October 2008, Okon was appointed to lead the Australian U-18 side at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in the month of January, aimed as part of a long-term view towards establishing the team for the 2012 Olympic Games.[11]

On 23 February 2010, Okon did not renew his contract with Gold Coast United, following the team's loss in the first round of the A-league finals. Since then, he has gone away on tour with the Australian Olympic under-23 squad for a tournament in Vietnam, where he was assistant coach to Aurelio Vidmar.

On 19 April 2012, it was announced he was appointed head coach of the Australia U20 national team and assistant coach of the Australia Olympic soccer team.[12]

On 29 August 2016, Okon was appointed the new manager of the Central Coast Mariners, signing a two-year contract.[13] Okon replaced Tony Walmsley, who was sacked following Central Coast's FFA Cup elimination at the hands of National Premier Leagues Victoria team Green Gully.

In Okon's debut as Central Coast manager, the Mariners drew 3–3 with Perth Glory at Nib Stadium, after coming back from 3-0 down at half time.[14] Okon achieved his first win as Central Coast manager in his fifth game in charge: a 2–1 win over defending champions Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on 6 November 2016.[15]

On 20 March 2018, with the Mariners being at the bottom of the A-league, it was announced that Okon had resigned from his position as manager of the Central Coast Mariners.[16]

Personal life

Okon's son, Paul Junior, is also a footballer, and currently plays in the academy of Portuguese side Benfica.[17]

Career statistics

Appearances and goals by national team and year[18]
National team Year Apps Goals
Australia 1991 1 0
1992 0 0
1993 1 0
1994 1 0
1995 1 0
1996 1 0
1997 0 0
1998 0 0
1999 0 0
2000 11 0
2001 9 0
2002 0 0
2003 3 0
Total 28 0

Managerial statistics

As of 6 May 2018[19]
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Central Coast Mariners Australia 29 August 2016 20 March 2018 51 10 13 28 019.61
Total 51 10 13 28 019.61


Club Brugge[20]




Australia U20



  1. ^ "FFA honours true greats". The World Game. Special Broadcasting Service. 22 October 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  2. ^ Roach, Stewart (7 June 2006). "Easy come, easy go: Okon signs for Jets as captain Zelic quits". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. ^ "Sad day as Okon hangs up his boots". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 June 2007.
  4. ^ "Gladesville Hornsby Football Association". GHFA. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  5. ^ "WRR Recruit Former Socceroos". West Ryde Rovers Sports & Social Club. 6 July 2011. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Former captains receive scholarship". MyFootball. Football Federation Australia. 24 June 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Okon ready for Australian Youth Olympic Festival". Matildas. Football Federation Australia. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  8. ^ "SBS The World Game". 27 July 2008. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008.
  9. ^ "Ex-Socceroo Paul Okon gets Gold Coast A-League coaching role". The Courier-Mail. 2 September 2008. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009.
  10. ^ "Home". APIA Leichhardt Tigers Football Club. Archived from the original on 12 March 2009.
  11. ^ Smithies, Tom (30 August 2008). "Ex-Socceroo Paul Okon to coach under-18 Australian team". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Archived from the original on 29 March 2009.
  12. ^ "Aurelio Vidmar and Paul Okon to coach national youth sides". Football Federation Australia. Archived from the original on 28 February 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Mariners appoint Paul Okon as Head Coach". A-League. Football Federation Australia. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Central Coast Mariners steal point in dramatic fightback against Perth Glory". Australia: ABC News. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  15. ^ Greco, John (6 November 2016). "Pain stunner inspires Mariners to upset win over Reds". Central Coast Mariners FC. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  16. ^ Kemp, Emma (20 March 2018). "Paul Okon quits as Mariners boss after disappointing A-League campaign". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ Rosengarten, Jake (20 July 2022). "Paul Okon Junior joins Portuguese giants Benfica". Retrieved 6 March 2023.
  18. ^ Paul Okon at
  19. ^ "Paul Okon". ALeague Stats. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Club Brugge | Palmares". 8 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Lazio | Palmares".
  22. ^ "Football - Soccer - Apoel FC Nicosia".
  23. ^ "Winnaars Gouden Schoen". 11 January 2012.
  24. ^ "Oceanian Player of the Year".
  25. ^ "Het beste Gouden Schoen-elftal ooit". 18 January 2011.