When Ange Postecoglou quit Brisbane Roar last year, Ivan Franjic, perhaps more than any other member of the club’s dual title-winning squad, was devastated.
It was under Postecoglou that Franjic went from being a carpenter, fresh off the building sites of Melbourne’s outer suburbs, to being a two-time A-League winner and a capped Socceroo.
Franjic, 26, was actually signed by Frank Farina but as Farina was sacked shortly after Franjic’s arrival, Postecoglou is the man he credits with converting him from state league anonymity into the A-League’s elite.
“When Ange left us after winning the title twice I was gutted. He’d done so much for me that I’ll never forget,” he said. “I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m never going to work with him again,’ and that made me really sad. Then when he became national coach, I was rapt. It’s fantastic that he picked me for his first squad.”
Except for those on the receiving end of his initial Brisbane clean-out, Postecoglou inspires devotion from his players at two clubs.
Countless careers have been started and revived under Postecoglou, and Franjic is adamant the new boss’s magic dust will reinvigorate the national team, starting with next Wednesday’s friendly against Costa Rica at Allianz Stadium. “He’s a great coach and his best asset is that he gets the best out of every player, no matter what position they play,” Franjic said. “He doesn’t let you slack off, he always demands the best. He was the one who gave me that opportunity to play every week and gave me the confidence to back myself.”
Few players in the league have the versatility of Franjic. He began life in the A-League as a right-back, where his penchant for getting forward transformed him into a wide forward last year.
This year, however, coach Mike Mulvey has used him to great effect on the left – especially so in his game-winning performance against Wellington Phoenix – and as a holding midfielder.
“And I’ve also played as a right-midfielder and as a centre-half,” Franjic said.
There have even been calls for Franjic to be tried at the Socceroos’ troublesome left-back position, an idea he’s more than open to.
“Most people see me as a right-back, and Ange certainly played me as right-back at Brisbane, but I’ll play wherever he wants me,” he said. “But I actually prefer the left side to the right, because I naturally like to cut inside on my right foot and drive through the middle.”
It’s hard to believe Franjic was on building sites as recently as 2009. “I’m a third-generation carpenter, so I really expected that’s what I’d be doing now,” he said. “Instead, I’m with the Socceroos and hoping to go to Brazil.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.