Tony Popovic
Popovic as Western Sydney Wanderers manager in 2013
Personal information
Full name Tony Popovic[1]
Date of birth (1973-07-04) 4 July 1973 (age 50)
Place of birth Sydney, Australia
Height 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
Position(s) Centre-back
Team information
Current team
Melbourne Victory (manager)
Youth career
Sydney United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1997 Sydney United 162 (14)
1994Canberra FC (loan) 5 (1)
1997–2001 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 87 (13)
2001–2006 Crystal Palace 123 (6)
2006–2007 Al-Arabi 17 (2)
2007–2008 Sydney FC 27 (1)
Total 421 (37)
International career
1988–1989 Australia U17 7 (2)
1990–1991 Australia U20 9 (1)
1992 Australia U23 4 (0)
1995–2006 Australia 58 (8)
Managerial career
2008–2011 Sydney FC (assistant)
2009 Sydney FC (caretaker)
2011–2012 Crystal Palace (assistant)
2012–2017 Western Sydney Wanderers
2017 Karabükspor
2018–2020 Perth Glory
2020–2021 Xanthi
2021– Melbourne Victory
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Tony Popovic (born 4 July 1973) is an Australian association football manager and former player. He is the current manager of A-League club Melbourne Victory.[2]

As a player Popovic's usual position was centre-back. Starting in 1989 at Sydney United he went on to play for Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan and Premier League side Crystal Palace, among other clubs. He appeared with the Australian national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he played against reigning World Champions Brazil.

Popovic started his coaching career in 2008 with Sydney FC. After a brief stint as assistant manager at Crystal Palace he was chosen as the inaugural manager of Western Sydney Wanderers at the start of the 2012–13 season. His major achievements as a manager are winning the 2012–13 A-League Premiership and 2014 AFC Champions League with the Wanderers, the 2018–19 A-League Premiership with Perth Glory and an Australia Cup with Melbourne Victory in 2022.

He is the father of Kristian and Gabriel Popovic, both of whom are also professional footballers.

Club career

Popovic playing for Sydney FC in 2008
Popovic playing for Sydney FC in 2008

Early career

Popovic was born in Sydney to a Croatian family,[3] and grew up in Fairfield, New South Wales.[4] He began his career with Sydney United. He rose through the youth ranks, making 162 appearances in seven years for the first team, before moving to play in the J1 League. Popovic signed with Sanfrecce Hiroshima where he stayed for five years scoring 13 goals in 94 appearances.

Crystal Palace

Popovic signed for Crystal Palace on a free transfer in August 2001 from Sanfrecce Hiroshima. He became an integral part of the Palace defence, eventually becoming club captain. He played more than 120 matches for Crystal Palace. In his last season he played for Crystal Palace in 21 Premier League matches. In total he made more than 120 appearances for the club.[5]

Popovic's contract with Palace expired at the end of June 2006, and he decided against accepting the club's offer of a new contract. He instead moved to Qatar club, Al-Arabi.

Sydney FC

In 2007, with the growth of the A-League and slight homesickness, Popovic moved to Sydney FC, signing a two-year deal, with coach Branko Culina also announcing him the club's captain.[6] Popovic scored his first goal on 28 October 2007 from a corner to beat the Mariners 3–2 in front of his home crowd of 17,850.

Popovic announced his retirement on 11 November 2008 after nearly 20 years as a professional footballer.[7]

International career

Popovic competed at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona for the Australia U23 team. He began his full international career in 1995 with the Australia national team. Over the next eleven years Popovic made 58 appearances for the Socceroos, scoring 8 goals.

The highlight of Popovic's career came in 2006 when the Australian national team qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup under the management of Guus Hiddink. He took part in both legs in the qualifying match against Uruguay. Being replaced in the first half of the second leg, due to injury, by Harry Kewell. The tall defender was named in the competing squad and made his World Cup debut against Brazil on 18 June. He suffered a calf injury 40 minutes into the game and was replaced by Mark Bresciano for the second half.[7] His injury ruled him out of Australia's last match in the group stage, against Croatia, and their second round loss against eventual winners, Italy.

On 4 October 2006, Popovic announced his retirement from the Socceroos.[8]

His final game was a friendly against Paraguay that month. He scored his eighth international goal, from a Mark Bresciano free kick, in his final minute on field to put Australia ahead, 1–0 in a game that finished 1–1.[7]

Coaching career

Popovic in 2010.

After retiring, Popovic moved into an assistant coach's role with Sydney FC,[9] where he remained until February 2011, when he returned to England and to Crystal Palace as first team coach,[10] after former teammate Dougie Freedman was appointed manager.[11]

Western Sydney Wanderers

On 17 May 2012, Popovic was announced as inaugural manager of A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers.[12] He joined the club on a four seasons deal after requesting to be released from the final year of his contracted role as assistant manager of Crystal Palace.[12] In Wanderers' first season, Popovic was named A-League Coach of the Year after finishing first in the league.[13] In the 2013–14 season Popovic led Wanderers to the 2014 AFC Champions League Final in the club's first attempt in the competition. They defeated Al-Hilal in the final, becoming the first Australian team to win the tournament. As a result of this achievement, Popovic was named as the 2014 AFC Coach of the Year.[14] With poor recruiting, the loss of assistant coach Ante Milicic, and a gruelling schedule of matches, the 2014–15 season saw Popovic's team finish ninth in the league and eliminated from the group stage of the 2015 AFC Champions League. Despite an unfavorable season Popovic signed a new three-season deal with Western Sydney Wanderers, which would keep him at the club helm until 2018.[15]

Karabükspor

On 1 October 2017, Popovic made a shock announcement that he had resigned from Western Sydney Wanderers to coach Turkish Süper Lig club Karabükspor. It came less than a week out from the start of the 2017–18 A-League season.[16] After nine games, on 15 December 2017, he was sacked by the club and was owed AUD$1.4M compensation. The club's entire boardroom quit during his time at the club and after he left, the club went into financial administration, began a relegation freefall and were ultimately dissolved in late 2022.[17]

Perth Glory

On 11 May 2018, Popovic was confirmed as Perth Glory's new manager following the dismissal of Kenny Lowe at the end of the 2017–18 season.[18] His first game in charge was a pre-season friendly against Chelsea which the Glory lost 0–1.[19] Under Popovic's management, Perth won the 2018–19 A-League premiership.

Xanthi FC

On 26 August 2020, shortly after coaching Perth to a 2–0 loss to Sydney FC in the A-League semi finals, Popovic activated a contractual clause allowing him to leave the club for a European team, after signing with Greek Super League side Xanthi FC, that was bought by Greek-Australian business tycoon Bill Papas. He lasted five months, being sacked with the club in 5th place and four points from the top. Goalkeeping coach Zeljko Kalac stated later that Popovic was sabotaged and fired due to the owners wanting more control over decisions. Papas would later be accused by Australian banking authorities over an alleged loan fraud scheme that cost multiple banks over $500 million AUD in total.[20][21]

Melbourne Victory

On 21 April 2021, Melbourne Victory appointed Popovic head coach on a three year contract to replace Grant Brebner and Steve Kean, who coached the team to last place in the previous season.[22] Popovic had early success, bringing the club back to the top of the A-League table after eight games and winning the 2021 FFA Cup on 5 February 2022.

Career statistics

Club

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[23]
Club Season League National cup[a] League cup[b] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Sydney United[c] 1989–90 National Soccer League 13 0 13 0
1990–91 17 1 17 1
1991–92 20 1 20 1
1992–93 24 2 24 2
1993–94 National Soccer League 27 2 27 2
1994–95 25 3 25 3
1995–96 29 4 29 4
1996–97 7 2 7 2
Total 162 15 162 15
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1997 J1 League 11 0 0 0 6 0 17 0
1998 25 4 3 1 2 1 30 6
1999 23 6 5 0 1 0 29 6
2000 21 3 2 0 3 2 26 5
2001 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
Total 87 13 10 1 12 3 109 17
Crystal Palace 2001–02 First Division 20 2 1 0 21 2
2002–03 36 4 3 0 40 4
2003–04 30 1 1 0 31 1
2004–05 Premier League 23 0 23 0
2005–06 League Championship 12 0 2 0 1 0 15 0
Total 119 7 5 0 119 7
Al-Arabi 2006–07 Qatar Stars League 17 2 17 2
Sydney FC 2007–08 A-League 20 1 20 1
2008–09 7 0 7 0
Total 27 1 27 1
Career total 412 38 15 1 12 3 439 42
  1. ^ Includes Emperor's Cup, FA Cup, Emir Cup.
  2. ^ Includes J.League Cup, League Cup, Sheikh Jassem Cup.
  3. ^ "Sydney Croatia" until 1993

International

Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Australia 1995 8 0
1996 10 0
1997 2 0
1998 2 0
1999 0 0
2000 7 1
2001 10 5
2002 0 0
2003 2 1
2004 5 0
2005 8 0
2006 4 1
Total 58 8
Scores and results list Australia's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Popovic goal.
List of international goals scored by Tony Popovic
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 19 June 2000 Papeete, Tahiti  Cook Islands
10–0
17–0 Oceania Nations Cup
2 9 April 2001 BCU International Stadium, Australia  Tonga
15–0
22–0 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
3 11 April 2001 BCU International Stadium, Australia  American Samoa
5–0
31–0 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
4
6–0
5 16 April 2001 BCU International Stadium, Australia  Samoa
5–0
11–0 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
6
11–0
7 12 February 2003 Boleyn Ground, London, England  England
1–0
3–1 Friendly
8 7 September 2006 Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia  Paraguay
1–0
1–1 Friendly

Managerial statistics

As of 11 December 2023[24]
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Australia Western Sydney Wanderers 17 May 2012 1 October 2017 180 77 40 63 042.78
Turkey Karabükspor 1 October 2017 15 December 2017 11 3 0 8 027.27
Australia Perth Glory 11 May 2018 2 September 2020 60 30 13 17 050.00
Greece Xanthi 2 September 2020 22 February 2021 9 4 3 2 044.44
Australia Melbourne Victory 21 April 2021 Present 70 31 17 22 044.29
Total 330 145 73 112 043.94

Honours

Player

Australia

Manager

Western Sydney Wanderers

Perth Glory

Melbourne Victory

Individual

References

  1. ^ "2006 FIFA World Cup Germany: List of Players: Australia" (PDF). FIFA. 21 March 2014. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Victory appoints Tony Popovic". Melbourne Victory FC. Football Australia. 22 April 2021. Archived from the original on 22 April 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  3. ^ I.Š (4 November 2014). "VIDEO: 'Infamous' Nishimura again shocked, but also helped the Croats". Gol.gr. Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  4. ^ Halloran, Jessica (12 July 2007). "After 12 years, Poppa comes home to a whole new ball game". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Sydney welcomes back Milligan". Fox Sports. Australian Associated Press. 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Popovic to lead Sydney FC". ABC News. 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Hassett, Sebastian (11 November 2008). "Tony Popovic announces retirement". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Socceroo defender Moore fails to arrive". Sydney Morning Herald. 4 October 2006. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Popovic, Filan commit to Sydney". The World Game. Special Broadcasting Service. 23 March 2010. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Popovic To Quit Sydney For UK". Australian FourFourTwo. 4 February 2011. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  11. ^ Gentry, Nick (8 February 2011). "Popovic poised to start Palace role at Coventry". News Shopper. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Popovic head coach for new Sydney club". Football Federation Australia. 17 May 2012. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic named A-League Coach of the Year". Adelaide Now. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Tony Popovic nominated for 2014 AFC Coach of the Year award after leading Wanderers to ACL glory | Football - Soccer | Fox Sports". Archived from the original on 17 November 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  15. ^ "Popovic Extends Deal to 2018". wswanderersfc.com.au. Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Tony Popovic quits as Western Sydney Wanderers A-League coach". ABC News. ABC. October 2017. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Tony Popovic sacked: Karabukspor, Socceroos". Fox Sports. 15 December 2017. Archived from the original on 19 March 2022. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Popovic confirmed as new Head Coach". Perth Glory FC. 11 May 2018. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Chelsea begin new era in Perth with 1–0 win over gutsy Glory at Optus Stadium". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 July 2018. Archived from the original on 9 November 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Kalac slams 'disgraceful' Aussie-owned Xanthi over Popovic sacking - FTBL | The home of football in Australia". FTBL. Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Westpac goes after Bill Papas' girlfriend over $285m fraud claims". Afr.com. 9 December 2021. Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  22. ^ "Victory appoints Tony Popovic". Melbourne Victory FC. 21 April 2021. Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  23. ^ Tony Popovic at National-Football-Teams.com
  24. ^ "Tony Popovic". ALeague Stats. Archived from the original on 8 October 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2022.