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Feb 12, 2018   |  5:05AM AET

The personal experience behind Santalab’s soothing words to Gombau

The personal experience behind Santalab’s soothing words to Gombau

Brendon Santalab says his calming sideline intervention in a recent Western Sydney Wanderers FC match was inspired by one particular personal experience. 

The Wanderers legend famously walked from the bench and calmed down coach Josep Gombau, who was set to sub off marquee striker Oriol Riera in the opening 15 minutes against the Mariners in Gosford on February 4. 

Santalab explains to the personal experience that inspired him to take the action he did, one which calmed the situation down and ended up being a positive for his side. 

“That’s just experience. That’s where my conversation with Josep came from. Years of experience. 

“And one moment in particular really helped me in that situation was that Popa [Tony Popovic, then Wanderers coach] wanted to take me off after 10 minutes in one game in China. 

“Ante Milicic [then an assistant coach at Wanderers] stopped him from making the substitution, which I’m very grateful for. 

“I’ll never forget that. And that really popped into my mind at that moment when there’s a heat of the moment situation. 

“I thought, ‘hang on a minute, this needs to have some water put on the fire’. 

“I thought this was a situation I need to get involved in. 

“For me, it was about what was the better thing for the team at that point.

“It wasn’t me coming, it was Oriol staying on and fixing whatever the drama was after the game. 


“I felt the situation that we’re in at the moment, drama was the last thing we needed. 

“Maybe the tone of my voice, my calmness that really helped Josep.

“We needed positivity, we needed our marquee on the pitch because that’s why he’s here at Western Sydney. 

“He’s a marquee for a reason, he’s played in La Liga and it’s been great to partner with Oriol. 

“I’ve always been for the team first and this was a situation when I thought of the best interests of the team and club. 

“For me, I’m really happy the situation ended up in a real positive way. Oriol went on to score 10 minutes later, which was even better for us.”

And Riera scored again on Sunday night with Santalab making a telling contribution off the bench in the 4-0 win over Phoenix.

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