Former A-Leagues boss to go head-to-head with Jose Mourinho after landing top job

There will be another Australian coaching in Europe in 2024-25 after Michael Valkanis was appointed head coach of Turkish Super Lig side Adana Demirspor.

Former Adelaide United defender and Melbourne City head coach Valkanis arrives at the club -who sacked Dutch legend Patrick Kluivert in December – on a one-year deal with the option of a further season.

Portuguese and Manchester United great Nani, who was a marquee briefly at Melbourne Victory in 2022-23, and Italian striker Mario Balotelli played for Adana last season.

The 49-year-old Valkanis joins Ange Postecoglou (Tottenham) and Joe Montemurro (Lyon Women) as Aussies and A-Leagues greats occupying head coaching roles in Europe after becoming the first Australian to coach in Turkey’s top flight.

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Valkanis arrives in Adana, having spent the majority of last season as John van’t Schip’s assistant coach at Dutch giants Ajax, where he also deputised for two games in an historic feat.

It means the A-Leagues alumnus will go head-to-head with legendary Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho next season after the ex-Real Madrid, Chelsea, Inter, Manchester United and Roma boss was appointed by Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce.

The job represents Valkanis’ latest head coaching job abroad, having previously spent time in charge of KAS Eupen in Belgium, where he avoided relegation in 2022 before a brief stint with Israeli outfit Hapoel Tel Aviv prior to the conflict in the Middle East last year.

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An Isuzu UTE A-League Premiership winner with Adelaide in 2006, a former Reds captain and ex-caretaker coach, who also spent time in charge of Melbourne City in 2017 following the departure of Van’t Schip, Valkanis was the first Australian ever to coach in the Israeli Premier League.

The former Greece and PEC Zwolle assistant has previously spoken about his belief in Australian coaches, with Kevin Muscat (Shanghai Port) and Peter Cklamovski (FC Tokyo) also making waves in Asia.

“There is so much competition here and there’s so many coaches. It’s still difficult because it seems like we’re on the other side of the world or on another planet,” Valkanis told KEEPUP last year. “If there is anyone that’s changing that perception, it’s Ange.

“What he has achieved is unbelievable. He showed he had something special from not only the South Melbourne days but at Brisbane Roar, and the Socceroos, F.Marinos and Celtic. Even going to Celtic, he said it himself, people were thinking who’s this guy and it didn’t matter what he’d done. Just imagine what he’s been through and he’s been our best coach ever in terms of what’s achieved. It’s difficult.

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“Joe Montemurro’s done fantastically well in the women’s game. He is a great coach and I’ve worked with Joe. We keep in touch and speak about the difficulties of making it in Europe. You have to stick it out. The guys now in jobs, we can’t sit and take a moment and say we’re really proud because we know how football works and it could go just like that. We can only keep pushing through it and showing we’re capable.

“I’ve been an advocate that I believe a lot of Australian coaches would probably do really well in Europe because we educate ourselves a lot, a lot.

“Talking to a lot of coaches, we devalue ourselves a little bit because where we are geographically. We sort of have a chip on our shoulders, we’re Aussies they don’t really think we’re good enough.

“So we do all this extra works. We will watch more games than anyone, we will watch more training sessions than anyone, we will listen to more coaching podcasts than anyone, we will try to speak to high-level coaches more than anyone so we can always learn because we feel that we need to be better.

“Here, they might just get a UEFA Pro License and because they get that, they think they’re Pep Guardiola. In Australia I’m telling you, we are that committed to becoming really good coaches and leaders, that all it takes is an opportunity and someone to believe in us for us to go and do a job.

“Ange will open the doors to a lot of people and whoever else is working out there, Kevin Muscat in Japan doing a great job, Joe Montemurro etc. We just have to continue pushing and flying the Australian flag. It’s nice to show we know something over there (in Australia), we’re doing a good job over there.

“We might be on the other side of the world but we’re developing good footballers and we’re also developing good coaches.”