12 A-Leagues players who have returned in interesting off-field roles

There are ex-players working in various roles across the Isuzu UTE A-League, on and off the field.

From the boardroom to photography and creativity, these are some of the interesting roles held by former footballers heading into the 2023-24 season.

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Kaz Patafta (Brisbane Roar – CEO)

Patafta tops this list after his appointment as Brisbane Roar’s CEO heading into the 2023-24 A-League Men season.

Once regarded as “the most technically gifted player I’ve coached” according to Australian legend Ange Postecoglou, Patafta made a name for himself as a youth player for Portuguese giants Benfica before the Australia youth international spent time playing for Melbourne Victory (2007-08) and Newcastle Jets (2008-12).

Since ending his professional career at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign, the 34-year-old has amassed experience in corporate law, specialising in commercial, energy, infrastructure projects, project finance and capital market transactions.

Now, he is leading the Roar from the front office.

Zac Anderson (Brisbane Roar – COO)

Former A-Leagues defender Anderson followed Patafta to the Roar in July.

Brisbane turned to Anderson as their new chief operations officer following changes to the club’s hierarchy.

An ex-Gold Coast United, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC defender, he has experience in the financial investment sector having founded Samara Capital.

The 32-year-old made his debut for Gold Coast in 2009 and spent three at the club before moving to the Mariners, where he was part of the team that won the 2013 Championship.

He also spent a stint with Sydney prior to spells in the Middle East and Asia.

Carl Valeri (Melbourne Victory – Director)

A legend of Melbourne Victory, the former Socceroo has returned to the club this season, taking on a new position on the board of directors.

Valeri captained Victory for five years between 2014 and 2019, making 113 A-League Men appearances to go with two Championships, one Premiers Plate and an FFA Cup title.

The midfielder has also worked with the club’s men’s, women’s and academy sides in an administrative capacity.

Marcelo Carrusca (Adelaide United – Head of junior development)

One of Adelaide’s favourite sons, the Reds legend is back at Coopers Stadium.

Carrusca made over 100 appearances for Adelaide between 2012 and 2017, winning the A-League Men Premiership-Championship double as well as the 2014 Australia Cup.

The Argentine-Australian is now heading the club’s newly-formed Junior Development Program.

Shane Stefanutto (Brisbane Roar – Technical director)

Stefanutto had a trophy-laden career in the A-Leagues, winning three Championships and two Premierships in a golden era for the Roar between 2010 and 2014.

The three-time Socceroo won two of those Championships with Australian legend Ange Postecoglou.

After retiring in 2018, Stefanutto returned to the Roar the following year as their technical director – a role he continues to hold.

Matt Simon (Central Coast Mariners – Sporting director)

If there is a name and face synonomous with the Mariners, it is Simon.

After more than 12 seasons with the Mariners, where he first made his debut in 2007 and scored a club-record 66 goals across 238 matches, he was promoted to the role of sporting director in April this year.

He had initially worked as head of recruitment and player welfare in Gosford.

Jason Culina (Western Sydney Wanderers – Head of academy coaches)

A 58-time Socceroo, who played for Dutch powerhouses Ajax and PSV – winning three four Eredivisie crowns – Culina joined the Wanderers as their head of academy coaches last month.

The 43-year-old – part of Australia’s ‘Golden Generation’ – previously played for Gold Coast United, Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC in the A-League Men.

Alex Baumjohann (Sydney FC – Head of player management)

The German star was a Premiership and Championship winner with the Sky Blues in 2019-20.

An ex-Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin midfielder made his way back to Sydney in May this year.

He was appointed the club’s head of player management – a newly-created role helping the Sky Blues bring in extra revenue by selling off talented players.

Baumjohann is also in charge of negotiating agreements and work across all academy teams, as well as the club’s men’s and women’s sides.

Chad Gibson (Brisbane Roar – Creative director)

He was Brisbane’s inaugural captain and he is back at the Roar in a unique role described as a “ground-breaking move for Australian sport”.

Led by Patafta and Anderson, the Roar have appointed Creative Brand Directors, which will “place the team at the forefront of global trends”.

Gibson – who made 23 appearances for the club between 2005-07 – will take the reins of this journey through ‘The Competitor’ brand agency, along with partner and creative communication specialist Cecilia Humphrey.

Rory Fallon (Wellington Phoenix – Head of youth development)

He scored the famous goal that sent the All Whites to the 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

The former New Zealand international, who had an extensive career abroad with Plymouth Argyle, Swansea City, Barnsley and Swindon Town, never played in the A-Leagues but he is playing a big role at the club.

Fallon is Wellington’s head of youth development following his appointment two years ago.

Rodrigo Vargas (Melbourne Victory – U21 head coach)

Vargas is regarded as one of Victory’s best defenders, having emerged from Victoria’s top tier to win a pair of Premierships and Championships while making 139 league appearances.

Now, the 2007-08 Victory medallist is at the helm of the club’s Under-21 National Premier Leagues side.

Cory Gameiro (Western Sydney Wanderers – Head of youth development)

Ex-Olyroo Gameiro arrived in Western Sydney in August as their head of youth development.

On the books of Fulham previously, the 30-year-old played for Sydney, Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar in the Isuzu UTE A-League but this career was plagued by serious knee injuries.