Milicic's Star On The Rise

The transition from predatory striker to promising tactician is one Melbourne Heart FC Assistant Coach Ante Milicic has seemingly made with ease, seamlessly moving from the penalty box to the technical area.

The transition from predatory striker to promising tactician is one Melbourne Heart FC Assistant Coach Ante Milicic has seemingly made with ease, seamlessly moving from the penalty box to the technical area.

Retiring in 2008, Milicic is a relative newcomer to the field, but in his brief time as a coach, the former Socceroo has enjoyed a meteoric rise and made quite an impression.

During his first full season as a head coach in 2009, Milicic guided Sydney United to the New South Wales Premier League minor premiership, while he was handpicked to assist Jan Versleijen and the next generation of Australian footballers at the U/20 World Cup in Egypt.

After receiving such a whirlwind introduction to the profession, Milicic believes his appointment with Melbourne Heart FC has come at the perfect time.

“In the last 18 months or so, I-ve done a lot of work on the coaching side of things. I-ve been doing my certificates, going through the system with the FFA,” he said.

“A lot of young coaches such as the likes of Paul Okon, Tony Popovic, Aurelio Vidmar, all followed in these footsteps when they finished their playing careers, moving into an assistant-s role and getting the opportunity to learn off more experienced coaches.

“And I feel I am in that position now. I think it-s the right time for me to go into this kind of role and I-m just fortunate that I-m in a position where I am working alongside two great names of world football and can learn from them.”

Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip and fellow assistant Jesper Olsen have over three decades of experience at the game-s elite level, having playing for giants Manchester United and Ajax, while boasting appearances in two World Cups and three European Championships.

“I think the main drawcard (of joining the Heart Syndicate) was working with John and Jesper,” he said.

“I-ve played in Holland and I know the kind of players and coaches Ajax has produced over the years, so it-s the perfect opportunity for me to take some good strides forward in my coaching career.

While coaching often looms as an obvious destination for footballers in the twilight of their on-field careers, very few successfully make the switch, but Milicic appears well on his way to defying the trend and elevating himself into occupation-s elite.

His time with the Qantas Young Socceroos saw the 35-year-old play a key role in helping instruct the rising stars of the local game, allowing the one-time Johnny Warren medallist to impart the teachings and instruction he received across an 18-year professional career.

And Milicic hopes his encyclopaedic knowledge of Australia-s youngsters will benefit the Heart Syndicate as it builds its inaugural playing squad, in addition to his previous experience in the Hyundai A-League.

“Working with the under 20s was a big thing for me as not only did I work with the players who were selected in the final squad for the World Cup but the fringe players as well. So I know most if not all the Under 20 players in the country,” he said.

“On top of that, with the Hyundai A-League I have played with or against, even coached I-d say 80 to 90 per cent of the players in the league, so I know the competition fairly well and I know the young players coming through the system so I think I can add a lot to the club with this knowledge.”

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