Last week saw the end of an era at Heidelberg as George Katsakis resigned as first team coach after a successful five year spell in charge. Katsakis, who has served the club as a player and board-member, as well as coach, felt that the time was right. “I’m due for a new challenge. I’ve served the club under difficult circumstances with, I think, great achievements.”
Having been forced to retire due to a bad leg break as a promising youngster (he was the NSL U21 Player of the Year in 1985) Katsakis moved straight into coaching. After spells as an assistant in the provisional leagues, and at South Melbourne, winning national titles with youth teams, he moved into the senior coaching and found immediate success, winning the State League 2 title with Northcote. At Kingston City he went one better, winning back-to-back promotions from State League 2 to the VPL before moving to Brunswick. He left Brunswick top of the table to join Heidelberg who he proceeded to lead to three finals campaigns over the next five seasons despite operating on one of the most restrictive budgets in the competition.
But for Katsakis, the real joy isn’t the titles or finals football, it’s just about football and the joy of working in the game. “People talk about finals campaigns, but I think more about the people – players I’ve worked with who’ve gone on to play in Europe and in the A-League. That’s where the real reward comes from.”
Katsakis is open to coaching in the VPL again next season – if the right opportunity opens up – but whatever happens he is sure to be a regular fixture at games around Melbourne. The game is in his blood.
He was keen to say thank you to his players, the club and the supporters for all the great memories he will take with him in his post-Heidelberg career. We hope to see you back in the game sooner rather than later George.