Sunday People

‘Ange-ball so intense – the fans will love it’

- EXCLUSIVE by Richard Edwards

THE east coast of Australia’s Queensland couldn’t be much further removed from north London.

But the man who captained the side that best demonstrat­ed Ange Postecoglo­u’s huge impact on Australian football believes some of that Down Under sunshine is coming Spurs’ way.

Former centre-back Matt Smith (below) grew up on the English south coast, but built his career in Australia, and played under Postecoglo­u at Brisbane Roar between 2010 and 2012.

Smith says Tottenham’s new coach is fully committed to the kind of football that will put bums on seats – and that the man who won five trophies at Celtic won’t be troubled by the weight of expectatio­n on his shoulders.

“Brisbane went from being ninth in the A-league one year to winning the Double the next,” said former Portsmouth trainee Smith. “Postecoglo­u was only at the club for two seasons, but the legacy he left utterly changed the landscape of Australian football.

“He had his own philosophy. A lot of Aussie teams were known to be very athletic and physically dominant. He felt Australian players were technicall­y far better than that and able to play high-risk possession football.

“He started it with Brisbane and it was ‘play out of defence’ at all costs. It was high-intensity, playing through the lines – and it was high lines and aggressive pressing.

“As a centre-back it was pretty hair-raising. But it was all about getting the ball on the floor and pass, pass, pass.”

Brisbane didn’t win until the fifth game of Postecoglo­u’s first season in charge, and there were plenty who were sceptical about this upstart coach.

Smith recalled: “There was a lot of criticism, saying his way wouldn’t work and Aussie players weren’t good enough to do it.

“Then we beat Sydney FC at home and went on a 36-game unbeaten streak unmatched in Australian football.”

Suddenly, ‘Roarcelona’ were hot stuff. Postecoglo­u moved on to coach Melbourne Victory before being appointed Australia’s national team boss in 2013.

“He got the top job and did remarkably well,” said Smith. “He went to the 2014 World Cup and had a very tough group – Chile, Spain, Holland – but never changed the way he wanted his teams to approach things. Then he won the Asian Cup in 2015.

“He’s not going to cave in and change his philosophy. Those Spurs fans are going to love it.”

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