‘We were so lucky’: The phone call that triggered Perth Glory’s capture of coaching ‘diamond’

WATCH: New boss David Zdrilic’s first press conference at Perth Glory

In the eyes of Perth Glory football director Stan Lazaridis, the club has uncovered a diamond in the rough – and that diamond is David Zdrilic.

The newly-appointed head coach of Glory’s Isuzu UTE A-League side signed a three-year deal with the club on Friday, departing his role as Sydney FC assistant to take on the top job in Perth.

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Speaking at Zdrilic’s unveiling at HBF Park, Lazaridis revealed the club had faced stiff competition for his services, with rival clubs circling for his signature before a chance phone call set off the chain of events that led to the 50-year-old taking on the Glory challenge.

“David, we got a little bit lucky with,” Lazaridis said.

“I rang him up to see how he was going and how the Euros were coming along, just to say hello, and talk about other things and what his intentions were.”

Zdrilic has spent the group stage of the 2024 UEFA Euros as a pundit on Optus Sport’s tournament coverage.

“At that time, he wasn’t sure, because at Sydney he was nestled there quite nicely,” Lazaridis continued.

“I spoke to a number of other potential candidates, but when the review process was going through, and then Alen (Stajcic) obviously was reviewing his own (situation), once he had made that choice to move on, for me it was: how quickly can we get David to sign?

“At that time, he was getting circled by so many different people so we had to make a quick decision. And I feel we’re so lucky in who we’ve got here, the fact that the players that we brought in are going to suit the way David wants to play.

“But in saying that, we’re still looking to bring a few more players in. And that’s where David will obviously make those choices.”

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Zdrilic is an unproven head coach in the professional game but his seven-year apprenticeship spanning Europe, the United States and Sydney has made the former Socceroo a fascinating appointment in the West.

The new Glory boss was schooled at German Bundesliga club RB Leipzig by Ralf Rangnick on his world-renowned gegenpress tactics and Zdrilic has embedded the relentless attacking style into his own coaching philosophies.

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Zdrilic says he’s ready to make the jump into head coaching and is determined to use the club’s rebuilding phase to stamp his own identity on the group and entertain the fans with his tactical approach.

“It’s very exciting that it’s a total rebuild really… and that rebuild is stamping my style of play on the team as quickly as possible,” Zdrilic said.

“I’m very proud of the way that I’ve been able to develop a style of play and hopefully be able to implement it very quickly. And I think it’s a style that will suit the players that we have.

“Like Stan said: he’s driven the recruitment, and now (we’re) working together to get the final pieces.

It’s very exciting to get to just get started. But really, the thing that I want is to have this playing style up and running and very evident that it’s a new way of playing, it’s a new attractive way of playing.

“I know it’s a buzzword, everyone says we’re attractive, we’re intense, all of this, but even at Sydney, I think we were playing a style that most people enjoyed. And that’s what I want to bring here as well.”

Zdrilic confirmed his stint as a panellist on Optus Sport’s Euros coverage had come to an end and his regime in Perth would begin with training on Monday, July 1.

He’s yet to confirm any of his coaching staff ahead of the 2024-25 Isuzu UTE A-league season; the appointment is still “fresh”, Zdrilic says, and hinted his staffing appointments would become clear in the next week.

A three-year contract in Perth is a long-term commitment to the Isuzu UTE A-League club; the club has had six coaches in seven years (including interims) but after securing new owners in the Pelligra Group this February, plus the arrival of Lazaridis as football director, the pieces are in place to ensure this appointment is for the long haul.

Lazaridis said the club has found a diamond in Zdrilic who perfectly fits the mould in terms of what the club was looking for after Alen Stajcic’s departure as head coach.

“I think the pedigree of David, he’s done his time, you know? He’s done a lot of – call it an apprenticeship – he’s gone on his own will to learn and invested personally in himself. Not a lot of people do that,” Lazaridis said.

“So that tells me that he’s invested and as he mentioned, he just didn’t snap at the first job that was offered. He did his time, he learned under really top coaches. He’s also looking forward, he’s the type of guy always looks forward and evolving with the game.

“And it was quite easy. When speaking to David it’s incredible how much we’re aligned. whereas when I spoke to other candidates, it just didn’t feel right. The spark wasn’t there.

“But with David it has felt like I already coached with him some somewhere before, I don’t know.

“And of course, we know each other back from playing days. I watch all the ex-players’ careers and where they’ve gone and I just think David is one of those ones that was like this diamond that (was) ready to come out. And we just luckily enough got him.”