“Did I think I was going to get another job in Australia? I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t.”
John Aloisi was out of the coaching game for over three years, and he feared it might’ve been over for him in Australia.
But Western United gave the Socceroos legend a chance, and Aloisi has grasped it with both hands and has the Club in its first ever A-League Men Grand Final and on the cusp of a first piece of silverware.
“On a personal level I’m just grateful that Club has given me this opportunity, because it was three years that I hadn’t coached,” he said.
“I knew that if I did get the opportunity again, that I would make something of it. I knew that it was close (winning with Brisbane Roar), wherever I went I was going to make it work so I’m grateful they’ve given me this opportunity, because not many others would’ve – or didn’t.”
Aloisi moved into coaching in 2012 when he took over Melbourne Heart in May before leaving in December the following year.
He would get another shot before he reached his 40th birthday, joining Brisbane Roar as head coach in 2015. While his time in the sunshine state was successful, it was equally heartbreaking.
Aloisi had Brisbane top of the league heading into the final day of his first season in 2015/16, with a win against Melbourne Victory all but securing the Premier’s Plate. But his Roar side drew 0-0 at AAMI Park, allowing Adelaide United to snatch the Premiership and Western Sydney Wanderers to take second place.
The heartbreak continued into the Finals that year, as Brisbane went 3-0 up against the Wanderers in the semi-final before losing 5-4 in extra-time. A year later, Brisbane was third again but fell in another semi-final, losing to Victory with 20 minutes to play.
Now 46 years of age and moving past the 10-year anniversary of his coaching journey commencing, Aloisi said he has learned and grown along the way, but admitted there have been plenty of doubts throughout.
“After the Melbourne Heart job – that taught me a lot. It taught me that I was strong enough to be a coach. It taught me that I knew that I could be a coach at this level,” he said.
“With Brisbane Roar we were so close. People still talk about the Melbourne Heart days, and that was 10 years ago. I’m thinking ‘come on, give me a break here!’ I proved at Brisbane Roar that my teams are not bad.
“That’s why I’m grateful for these guys because if they didn’t give me a job then I would’ve had to go overseas.”
An immensely passionate player, Aloisi has carried that love of the game with him to the touchline and uses it to fuel him as a coach.
The United boss said his burning desire to coach would lead him anywhere he needed to go to make it work.
“I was seriously considering that I had to leave Australia, because my passion is coaching. I love it, I really do,” he said.
“I had to move away from my family to coach – my family is still up in Brisbane – because I’m so passionate about it. If I didn’t have their support I don’t know how it would be or what I would be doing.”
Now, Aloisi has finally got over the line and into his first Grand Final, and simultaneously the first Grand Final in Western United’s short history. The message from the coach is simple.
“We’re not just happy to reach the Grand Final, we want to win it.”