Ange Postecoglou compares himself to an alien living amongst us and makes James Maddison claim


Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou has compared himself to an alien living amongst us ahead of England's game against Australia on Friday and believes James Maddison can become an international star.

The 58-year-old has made a huge impact on the Premier League since arriving ahead of this season with his Spurs side currently top of the table, unbeaten and playing some of the best football in the division. On Friday, Australia will take on England at Wembley and six years after he walked away from managing his country, Postecoglou believes that little has changed with regard to football becoming a major force down under.

"There’s a couple of things [that prevent it from doing that]. One of them is obviously the sporting landscape, where there’s some pretty strong codes there that have generationally dominated the landscape," he said. "There’s Aussie Rules, that’s the indigenous sport of Australia, it’s kind of unique to them and they take great pride in protecting as their code. The rugby codes dominate.

"It’s very hard for football to make an impact in that space and I guess then the flipside of that is just how global the sport of football is. If you want to make inroads then you’re battling those kind of odds. It’s kind of insurmountable. You can’t make the necessary steps. If I can compare that to a country like Japan who also have the tyranny of distance and baseball’s pretty strong, they plant a lot of resources into football and you can see that that’s making an impact. I don’t see Australia down that road."

Seven years ago, Postecoglou brought his Australia side to play England at the Stadium of Light, where they lost 2-1 and he believes that nothing has changed with regard to the popularity of football back home even since the World Cup displays and the Asia Cup win under the now Spurs boss.

"I just don’t see it. I don’t think it registers. You guys are only talking about it because of me. When I coached in England seven years ago at Sunderland, some of you were probably there but you just discovered me a year ago, mate, in your consciousness," he said before it was suggested that Eric Dier scored an own goal that night for his side.

"Correct. Fraser Forster in goal. That’s my theory actually. If we ever discover aliens, the trick will be we’ll find out they’ve been living amongst us a long time. That’s kind of me. That’s why I’ve got the advantage. I know all about you, you don’t know enough about me.

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"Going back to your question, it didn’t make an impact back there and that was kind of my frustration. I don’t think that anything they can achieve … when you look at what the Matildas did at the World Cup, unbelievable … but you still won’t see an influx of resources to the game.

"You won't. I guarantee it. They’ll build stadiums and other codes will use them. I just don’t think the nation as a whole has that inside them to understand you can make an impact on the world of football but it requires a kind of nationalistic approach that I just don’t think Australians at their core are really interested in."

Will Postecoglou's own success in the Premier League drive the popularity of football in Australia? The Tottenham head coach has given up trying to make that happen.

"I don’t [think it will make a difference]. I don’t know and maybe that’s just me, not being cynical, but I gave up that fight," he admitted. "It’s a much easier space for me to live in because I was so frustrated for so long. It was my biggest frustration. One of my major drivers for doing what I did was to do that – to change football in Australia - and that's the reason I left.

"I felt I hadn’t made an impact at all. That's easier for me to deal with than to think maybe I still can now with what I’m doing. I just think I’d be disappointed so I’d prefer to think it’s not going to happen."

Postecoglou gave a firm shake of the head when asked if he would ever go back managing Australia one day.

"No, I walked away from a World Cup. We qualified and I walked away. The reason I walked away was I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing," he said. "I think I’ve said all along, it’s not just doing the job and winning games of football. It’s got to be a higher purpose and my higher purpose in Australia was to change the game. I just don’t think that will happen."

When asked if he had any regrets about walking away from the job after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, he added: "No, I knew it was the right time and it wasn’t an easy decision obviously because you are giving away a World Cup. For a lot of people that’s their biggest dream and I gave it up.

"I’d been to 2014 anyway but I knew it was the right decision. It was the right decision for me, it was the right decision for where I saw the next stage of my career and if I didn’t make that decision at that time, if I had waited until after the World Cup, I’ve got no doubt I wouldn’t be sitting here now."

So what about managing England one day? "Oh, come on mate!" he replied while putting a hand to his face.

Stranger things have happened though than an Australian taking the helm of the England national team. "Very true, stranger things have happened, but no," he reiterated. "They’ve got a fantastic manager and I’m eight games into a Tottenham career. That’s how I think."

One man who is looking to make a splash for England is Tottenham midfielder James Maddison, who has revelled in playing under Postecoglou with five assists and two goals in his eight Premier League matches since his £40million switch from Leicester City. The Australian believes the 26-year-old can become equally important for his country.

"There’s no reason why not. National teams are a bit funny because club form isn’t always the greatest indicator as to having a great international career," he said.

"There’s so many other things that need to fall into line. Sometimes it’s about circumstance, opportunity, who else is in that position, how much you get to play, the kind of football. There’s so many things that need to fall into place but Madders has the ability to play and excel at international level. I’ve got no doubt about that.

"I think one of the reasons he came to Tottenham was to show people that he’s got more layers to his game and I think he’s showing that. Hopefully that transfers to him making an impact for England."

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