If you had told Markus Babbel and Robbie Fowler 19 years ago that they would one day coach against each other in Australia, you would have no doubt got some crazy looks.
At the time, they were teammates at famous English club Liverpool FC and coaching let alone being in Australia for football, would not have even registered on their radar given their careers were in full force.
But, as we know, football often throws up strange situations and this will be the case when the former Reds pals meet on the sideline at Bankwest Stadium – Babbel as coach of the unbeaten Western Sydney Wanderers and Fowler on the other end with Brisbane Roar.
While their focus will be squarely on the Hyundai A-League Round 4 clash, there is no doubt they will find some time to reminisce at some stage about their days in the English Premier League.
Fowler, the man the Liverpool faithful call “God”, was already an entrenched star at Merseyside when Babbel joined for the 2000/2001 season. Fowler was the goalscoring freak while Babbel was the hard nut German defender.
They were regulars in the starting XI that season though, for one reason or another, their time together on the field the following season was limited before Fowler eventually joined Leeds United late in 2001.
The highly decorated Englishman, who played 550 games and scored 236 goals, went on to play for Manchester City, Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers before being lured to the A-League in 2009 to play with North Queensland. He also had a stint with Perth Glory in the 2011/12 season.
Illness curtailed Babbel’s career at Liverpool, forcing him out of the game for a year before stints with Blackburn Rovers and VfB Stuttgart.
Former German international Babbel was quick to turn to coaching, first as an assistant at his old club VfB Stuttgart for the 2007/08 season then in the main role the following season.
He is now an old hand at coaching having also taken charge of Hertha Berlin and 1899 Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga and Swiss club FC Luzern, where he had terrific success before joining the Red & Black at the beginning of last season.
For Fowler, however, this job with Brisbane Roar is his first real taste of senior coaching. Despite his undoubted credentials he was overlooked for several jobs in the A-League before the Queenslanders came knocking this season.
While most eyes will no doubt be on the game between the Wanderers and the Roar, the interaction between the two on the sideline will be sure to attract much attention, both from the media and fans.
The best part, though, will likely come when the two catch up in the dressing rooms after the game for a chat. There will be some players cranking their necks to listen in on some of the old stories the two will reminisce about.