Lou Sticca is no stranger to transfers that make headlines. After all, he was the one that managed to bring both Dwight Yorke and Alessandro Del Piero to the A-League. So it comes as little surprise that he had no trouble securing the services of former Udinese midfielder Panagiotis Kone for the next couple of years.
Formerly a player agent, nowadays Sticca is putting all of his efforts into helping the Western Melbourne Group (WMG) finding the players they need in order to be ready for the 2019/20 season of the A-League, from the position of Managing Director.
When asked about how the transfer of Kone, the first official player of the new A-League side, Sticca says it was all a matter of good connections: “We were identifying players and looking in various markets. Then he was recommended to me by former South Melbourne player Michael Panopoulos.”
Sticca already had some basic knowledge of who Kone was from his performances in Italy and the Greek national team. “I investigated the Greek player and saw that he played in Series A (Italian league) for eight years. So I looked at his curriculum, he had a very good career. And then I spoke to him and we hit it off very well. Basically, that’s it,” Sticca said.
In regards to what they expect from the former AEK player, Sticca appeared to emphasise more on his ability to take charge both on and off the pitch: “He’s a very experienced player, yet he’s still young. He’s still got a lot of football in him. He doesn’t score a lot of goals, but he scores a lot of spectacular goals.”
The experienced agent also took other skills into account. “He has captained Bologna, so he’s obviously got leadership skills. Had my coaching staff also looking at him from a technical point of view, and we agree he’s an on-field leader that we can build that we can build our forward line around on,” he said.
“So, he’s a very important part of our plans. He’s obviously very intelligent, very capable and a good human on and off the field. He’s the sort of person that we’re very proud to bring to our club.”
Answering a question about if the transfer of Kone could potentially translate to an approach of the Western Melbourne Group towards the Greek community, Sticca appeared to have a good handle on the situation of football and the fans in the area: “We want everyone to feel comfortable to come to our games. We want to be inclusive. I have been in the game a long time and I know that the Greek community are big followers of football, full stop. Either through Heidelberg, Melbourne Victory, South Melbourne.”Though Sticca is not asking for a miracle, he is hopeful that “football fans of all nationalities come out to watch Kone” and the rest of the team.
“And if there’s a lot of Greeks that decide to come out, that’s even better. I know that Kone himself is very knowledgeable of the size of the Greek community in Vicotria and he wants to engage with them personally,” said Sticca.
“So I certainly welcome everybody and especially the very passionate and substantial Greek community.”
When it comes to football, it could take some time for a player to settle in and be able to perform at the top of their game, especially if they’re far from home. Sticca and his associates appear to be on top this though and want to do whatever they can to make him feel as comfortable as possible:
“As you know, in Australia we have a long pre-season. So, he’ll join us from the start. In fact, we might even bring him out next month for a visit. He’s quite keen to establish himself here and I don’t think an experienced player like him will take very long to acclimatise. I believe he’ll be ready to go from day one.” All that remains to be seen is if the faith that Sticca and the rest of the WMG are placing in Kone will be rewarded. Be that as it may, next season of the A-League is already shaping up to be quite an interesting one.