Having finally returned to Melbourne in 2016 after an absence of 20 years, former Melbourne City coach Michael Valkanis will once again leave the city of his birth in pursuit of his football dream. The first time he left to pursue a playing career. Now, the Melbourne born Valkanis has answered the call of his predecessor at Melbourne City John Van’t Schip and accepted an offer to further his coaching career in the Dutch Eridivisie as Van’t Schip’s assistant at current club PEC Zwolle.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos about the move to the top Dutch League, Valkanis said, “We know some of the great clubs that exist there. We know the Dutch have always been the most inventive, the most innovative in football in the past. They play a brand of attacking football which suits my philosophy a lot.”
“They’re also a development league. What I mean by that is, you see the amount of players they develop and feed the whole Europe, if not the world. With players they develop, they do a very good job at a very young age.”
“The Dutch League is a very entertaining league. I spent a little bit of time there recently when I had to go there to get interviewed. You see a very open game, a very attacking game. The culture there is, people like to be entertained. They want to see good football.
“I’m very excited going there because this suits totally the way I see the game and the philosophy I believe in, with what I’ve learnt. Yes, very excited to go to one of the top leagues in Europe and work with someone like John Van’t Schip.”
The move to Holland will reunite Valkanis and Van’t Schip who teamed together as assistant and senior coach at Melbourne City in 2016-17. Valkanis has accepted the Dutch club’s offer of a one year deal with a one year option.
The Melbourne born Valkanis described the move on Twitter, as the realisation of a dream to coach in one of Europe’s top leagues.
It will be the second time the Melbourne born Valkanis ventures to Europe in pursuit of his football dreams. His playing career took him from South Melbourne to Greece in 1996 where he spent several seasons as a professional footballer before returning home in 2002 to eventually captain A-League club Adelaide United. Upon retirement in 2009, he began his coaching career at Adelaide United youth, before taking on caretaker and assistant senior coaching roles at the Reds. He returned to his home state to join Melbourne City as Van’t Schip’s assistant coach in 2016. Following Van’t Schip’s resignation in early 2017 to return to Holland, Valkanis took over the reins as head coach for the remainder of the season before being replaced by current City boss Warren Joyce under whom he continued to work as an assistant coach before parting with the club by mutual consent. Valkanis later indicated differences in playing philosophy.
Valkanis says he and his family are excited by the move to Europe. He told Neo Kosmos, “ I’ve got four boys, and three out of the four play football. They’re very excited. I don’t think they realize as young kids, how lucky they are in going to a nation like this and how they can develop their own game in a country like Holland. They’re young and adventurous and they’re looking forward to Europe knowing they’re going to be able to watch some much football over there. And my wife, I’ve been really lucky. My wife has always been very supportive. ..She’s very excited and looking forward to this adventure for us. It will be a great experience.”
PEC Zwolle finished ninth last season in the Eridivisie and two of the more famous players who have played for the club are former Dutch internationals Jaap Stam and Johnny Rep.