Greek Australian Arthur Papas is making waves in Indian soccer.
Considered to be one of the best coaches in India, he is currently coaching the Olympic team and a team in the top tier of Indian football.
He left his Victorian roots to pursue an international career, and has been in India for a year making I-League team Dempo successful once more.
This meteoric rise has been something the young coach would never have expected ten years ago.
At the age of 25, he had to realise his Australian football career was finishing before it started. After six knee surgeries, he hung up his shoes and re-assessed his options. His love of football never left him, so he stuck close to the sport, and started making a name for himself as a coach.
He became the youngest coach in the Victorian Premier League at the age of 30, taking on Greek sponsored Oakleigh Cannons and leading them into the grand final.
For his efforts, he was awarded the best coach of the season in 2011.
He then followed into the top tier, coaching Newcastle Jets in the 2011/12 season, with the team finishing seventh.
He served as assistant coach for the U-17 Australian team that did wonders for his coaching skills. He now coaches for the Indian top tier club Dempo, and has brought the club back to life.
The club is currently in a transition period after being very successful in the past. Under the watchful eye of Papas, the club is now implementing a long term strategy on and off the field to get the club back to its former glory.
“This is one of the main reasons I came to the group,” Papas tells Sport 24.
“There is still a long way to go to make the club viable and operate more efficiently. It takes time to get to this stage.”
He bases much of his coaching technique on what he learnt from Dutch coach and former Australian U20s coach Jan Versleigen.
“My football philosophy has considerably evolved and continues to with my football experiences,” he says.
“The teams I work with have a clear form of game. It’s based on uninterrupted possession and combined with simple passes and creative movement.”
Despite his success in India, Papas hopes to reassess his career options again, and could be returning to Australia soon or taking up a role in the Greek leagues.
He makes no secret that in his early years as a player, he’d watch Panathinaikos battle in the Super League.
“To work in Greece is a personal goal and of course it takes time to get to this level in order to have the right opportunity,” he says.
He’s already working on his technical skills to get Super League ready.
This article first appeared in sport24.gr in Greek.