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Ange Postecoglou interview: Spurs boss on his father's sacrifice, emigrating to Australia, and his football journey since

Let's go back two years to when news Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou sat down with Sky Sports to discuss his parents’ decision to emigrate to Australia from Greece, the hardships they experienced and why that upbringing still informs his thinking today. This is his story...

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A powerful and emotional Ange Postecoglou sits down to give us an in-depth look into his life. From a hard start in Greece to moving to Australia, speaking in 2021 the Spurs manager tells us his story

“I was five years old when we got on a boat for a month and headed over to Australia. I don’t have great recollections of it. At the time, there was a bit of upheaval in Greece and, unfortunately, we got caught up with that.

"My father made the decision that we needed to move abroad.

"You are talking about going half way around the world to a place where you literally don't know a soul, you don't know the language, you have no guarantee of any housing, any employment. All they have really given you is a ticket.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou shares memories of family and his life in Australia
Image: The young Ange Postecoglou started afresh in Australia and it was tough

"I was very aware that we were different. My father, my mother, they literally had to make their way around without being able to talk. That leaves you, I guess, very isolated in many respects.

"There is the story of my dad being alerted by a neighbour that there was a mattress out the front of this house for whoever wanted it. They picked it up and were lugging it on their shoulders put forgot where home was and were literally walking the streets for hours because they could not even ask for directions.

"My dad used to tell that story and get a lot of laughs but I am sure when he was lugging that mattress on his shoulders it was not funny.

"I have a feeling he thought he would go to another country, establish ourselves, and he could get his family into a situation whereby they would be comfortable enough for him to go back and live our lives in Greece. He always had that pull.

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Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou shares memories of family and his life in Australia
Image: The Postecoglou family emigrated to Australia from Greece when Ange was five

"There was a never-ending struggle there to establish ourselves. He was working day and night, my mum was working, we were at school, we were saving money to buy a house. We shared a house with another family for a number of years.

"All those kind of things sort of cascades and in the end his life just sort of revolved around working and trying to make a living for us to survive rather than thrive pretty quickly.

"People sort of misinterpret the immigration story. I often hear people say that, well, you know, they emigrate to another country for a better life. That is not what the story of the immigrant is. They go to another country to provide opportunities for the next generation.

"My mum and dad did not have a better life. I am convinced they would have had a better life, even as difficult as it was, in Greece, where all their family were, their social networks, the language, the life. They left all that behind because they wanted to provide an opportunity, I think, for their kids.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou shares memories of family and his life in Australia
Image: Ange Postecoglou believes the immigrant story is one that is often misunderstood

"When I think about that it is such an enormous gift for somebody to give. To understand that they are going to sacrifice their own happiness and in many respects their well-being for their children. It is a lesson that has never been lost on me that everything I do I do in honour of my parents.

"Particularly, I guess, my father because of the football angle of it. I don't want his sacrifices to mean, not nothing because I have had an enormously blessed life, but if I can make a difference and his name continues on. He has passed away but wherever he is I hope it feels like those sacrifices he made were worthwhile.

"Football was a connector to him with his past. By passing it on to me I think he felt like he was giving me the kind of upbringing he wanted to give me even though we were in a foreign land. By extension, football became the core of everything we did.

"Football was that security blanket for him. Whatever happened in this new world, there were some core values that I would be able to keep by him putting me in this world that he understood.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou shares memories of family and his life in Australia
Image: Ange Postecoglou's passion for football was inspired by his father

"It has always been the constant in my life. My dad was working, my mum was working, my sister was older. I created this world for myself and it all revolved around football. Even as a six, seven or eight year old, I read about, all I watched, all I talked about was football.

"And not just playing it. I think that was probably the point of difference with me. A lot of my friends played it but then they had other interests. I was obsessed with the game somewhere deep inside me even as a young boy. I kind of knew that whatever journey I was on, football was going to be at the middle of it.

"I have never seen it as a job, something where I can make a living. It has always meant something more to me. We are in a ruthless business but for me it is never just about results, just about winning, it is about putting smiles on people's faces, doing things that are memorable.

"Football has this ability to unite and create something more than just a spectacle as a sport. The club that I started out at, South Melbourne Hellas, was not just a football club. It was a hub for Greek immigrants to come together on a weekend and feel comfortable.

"That happened with the Croatian community, the Italian community, the Spanish community. That is what football meant. It did not mean when I broke into the team that I was playing with Greeks, there were guys from all sorts of backgrounds.

"I love that football did that and still does that. I am lucky enough to have been all over the world and wherever you go there will be two goalposts in the ground. Those goalposts could be two bags or two rubbish bins but there will be kids having a kick. I love that part of it.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou shares memories of his father and his life in Australia
Image: Ange Postecoglou's late father was a passionate supporter of his son's career

"Whenever I was in my father's company, whatever I had accomplished, there was a little bit of a part of him that was saying, 'Well, great, but you can do better.'

"The last conversation I had with him before he passed away, I was fortunate enough to get back in time. I was coaching Yokohama at the time. The last game he actually saw we won 7-2 and he would have been buzzing because there were so many goals.

"I got there and I had a good chat to him. That was probably the only time he said that he was really proud of me and what I had achieved. To be honest, I would much rather he was still around telling me that I still wasn't doing enough and I could be better than how it is now.

Celtic's shared values

"I am well aware of Celtic's background and I love the fact that it was built in a similar light to the club that helped us as a family in Australia in South Melbourne Hellas. Those kind of things are really important to me.

"The world moves on pretty quickly these days but I just think there are certain values and traditions that should be maintained for generations to come. I love that this football club still holds on to those very dearly."

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou shares memories of family and his life in Australia
Image: Ange Postecoglou's father pictured on the pitch celebrating with his son

"My father wanted me to come to Europe. He wanted to get up in the middle of the night in Australia and watch his son over here in Europe. I am sure he would have been proud. To be fair, he probably would have been over here.

"There is footage of when we won the grand final in 1990 and I was captain of the team. We did a lap of honour with the trophy after the game having won. There was a bit of a crowd invasion at the time which people weren't happy about.

"The old man was right in the middle of it. Somehow he ended up running right alongside me. There is video footage of it which is equally bizarre because it is funny that he jumped the fence at the age of 55 or whatever it was and wanted to share it with me."

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