Best of the West – Tony Popovic


One of western Sydney’s finest defenders, Tony Popovic now has arguably the biggest management role in Australian domestic football.

As Western Sydney Wanderers prepare for their Hyundai A-League debut, over the coming days we will look at some of the finest footballing talent to come out of Sydney-s western suburbs.

Think we-ve got the list wrong? Is there a player you think shouldn-t be mentioned or is there someone we-ve missed? Have your say below…

One of Australia finest defenders, Tony Popovic has turned into a promising coach and now has what is arguably going to be the toughest/most discussed management role in Australian domestic football as the head coach of Wanderers FC.

What he achieves in his role with the Hyundai A-League’s newst club could define the latter part of his career, but as a defender in the national set-up there were few who could match his cool quality.

Popovic’s partnership in the centre of defence with Craig Moore was a major reason for much of the success Australia enjoyed throughout the late 90s and early 2000s.

At an international level his crowning achievement was definitely playing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, making the tournament as a key part of our defence.

Unfortunately injury would end his tournament and caused Poppa to miss the Round of 16 match against Italy, which ultimately saw the Qantas Socceroos out of the World Cup; not long after he retired from international football, but set the mould for the next generation of defenders.

While Popovic was great at an international level, the same can be said of his club career.

A stalwart at Crystal palace, playing for the club from 2001-2006, including one season in the Premier League, Popovic was known as a committed and classy defender in his time at the club.

Unfortunately though the lasting memory of his time in England might be of a back-heel flick that beat Crystal Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni to be one of the most beautiful own goals ever seen in any league.

The goal against Portsmouth, kept Palace rooted to the bottom of the EPL table that day.

Regardless of that, Popovic had a remarkable career and now gets the chance to continue it, where it all began by giving back to Western Sydney Wanderers FC as their inaugural coach.