LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 24, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
CNN  — 

More than 130 Englishmen, 37 Scots and three Americans have sat down in a Premier League dugout. There have been Italians, Argentinians, Chileans and Swedes. There are three managers from Spain’s Basque Country in the league right now. However, the top flight of English soccer had never seen an Australian manager in its 31-year history – that is until the arrival of Ange Postecoglou.

The 58-year-old Australian’s Premier League career might be in its infancy, but he has already turned a lot of heads since his appointment as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

His media conferences have become box office viewing, while his team’s style of play is equally as watchable ever since this most unorthodox of coaches arrived in the promised land of the Premier League.

When he landed at Scottish side Celtic in 2021 as a largely unknown coach, Postecoglou’s appointment was met with skepticism.

There were doubts over his CV given Postecoglou had only managed in Australia, Greece and Japan until that point. But by the end of his two-year tenure with the Glasgow club, in which he won five out of the six trophies up for grabs, the doubters had made themselves scarce.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou and Celtic captain Callum McGregor hold the Cinch Scottish Premier League trophy during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Motherwell at Celtic Park on May 14, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Australian was greeted with a similar reception when he was hired by London club Tottenham in the summer of 2023. Fast-forward a couple of months and Spurs fans are chanting, “We’ve got our Tottenham back.”

Back home, Postecoglou is still revered for his efforts with the national team in the 2010s.

“He’s inspired Australian football and inspired Australian football coaches,” Dr. Craig Duncan, one of the nation’s leading sports scientists who worked with Postecoglou during his tenure with the Socceroos – the Australian national team – told CNN Sport.

So much so that, according to Duncan, many Australian football fans he has spoken to will immediately check the score of Tottenham’s matches when they wake up.

The long way around

Postecoglou was born in Athens, Greece, in 1965, before emigrating to Australia five years later with his family after his father lost his business in the Greek military coup in the late 1960s, according to BBC Sport.

“You are talking about going half way around the world to a place where you literally don’t know a soul, you don’t know the language, you have no guarantee of any housing, any employment,” Postecoglou said to Sky Sports in 2021. “All they have really given you is a ticket.

“I was very aware that we were different. My father, my mother, they literally had to make their way around without being able to talk. That leaves you, I guess, very isolated in many respects.”

Postecoglou had a short playing career that saw him capped four times by the Australian national side, but he was forced into retirement at 27 due to a knee injury. He spent the entirety of his playing days with South Melbourne FC, a team formed by Greek immigrants.

The club repaid Postecoglou’s loyalty by providing him with his first managerial position in 1996.

He spent the next four years with the Victoria-based outfit before coaching Australia’s Under-17 and Under-20 national teams from 2000 to 2007.

Despite some initial success, Postecoglou’s side failed to qualify for the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and sparked debate around his suitability for the position. He left the role as a result, but not before he had an infamous and heated on-air debate with former Australia international Craig Foster about his tenure.

The impassioned argument lasted over 10 minutes, with Foster even calling on Postecoglou to resign.

Postecoglou told the Open Goal podcast that the debacle had made him “unemployable” and spent the next couple of seasons coaching Panachaiki in the Greek third tier and semi-professional Australian team Whittlesea Zebras.

Eventually, the Brisbane Roar of the A-League – Australia’s highest level of men’s soccer – took a chance on Postecoglou in the midst of the club’s worst ever campaign.

In his first full season at the club, Postecoglou led the Roar to a first ever A-League title and the team successfully defended its crown the following year.

A one-and-a-half-year stint with the Melbourne Victory followed before he was appointed as manager of the Australian national team in October 2013, leading the team in its trip to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

CURITIBA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23: Head coach Ange Postecoglou of Australia walks down in the tunnel after the 0-3 defeat in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Australia and Spain at Arena da Baixada on June 23, 2014 in Curitiba, Brazil.

Postecoglou led his exciting side to a 2015 Asian Cup triumph and also qualified for the 2018 World Cup as he instilled a distinct identity in the Socceroos.

Postecoglou's CV

1996–2000: South Melbourne
2000–2005: Australia U17
2000–2007: Australia U20
2008: Panachaiki
2009: Whittlesea Zebras
2009–2012: Brisbane Roar
2012–2013: Melbourne Victory
2013–2017: Australia
2018–2021: Yokohama F. Marinos
2021–2023: Celtic
2023 – present: Tottenham Hotspur

“When Australia was playing, there was a style of football,” Duncan told CNN. “It didn’t matter when and where we were playing, that was the football style that he would play.”

After stepping down as Australia boss, Postecoglou was tasked with rebuilding Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, before heading to Scotland to manage Celtic.

Despite the perceived lack of big-club experience, Postecoglou has proved himself throughout his career as the man to call in a crisis, which perhaps explains why Spurs came calling after Antonio Conte’s spell in North London ended in acrimony.

Attack, attack, attack

Postecoglou’s sides play a high-octane, aggressive brand of soccer that focuses on pressing high up the pitch, regaining possession quickly after losing it and creating overloads in attacking spaces.

“You can’t play Ange’s football if you’re not very good physically,” says Duncan. “A lot of it is having the right players that can physically do what he requires them to do.”

Spurs also play a high defensive line which pins the opponent back and allows the ball to be regained higher up the pitch, though that strategy can leave Tottenham vulnerable to counter attacks.

It’s an approach that has been praised as “brave” by some and criticized as “naïve” by others.

However, Postecoglou’s unrelenting commitment to attacking soccer has won over many Spurs fans.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Angelos Postecoglou (C) leads his team's training session for the pre-season tour soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, 22 July 2023. (Photo by Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto)

“I think for anyone that loves football and its players, fans across the board, everybody wants to see goals,“ Ricky Sacks of the Last Word on Spurs podcast told CNN Sport. “Everybody wants to see a team attack. It’s the most exciting thing in football when you watch your team go forward.

“The key thing now is that everyone turns up on a matchday really, really excited about what they’re going to watch,” said Sacks. “We’ve not had that feeling for a long time.”

No matter how enjoyable the soccer is, though, all the praise means nothing if your team isn’t getting results.

“This isn’t about us playing good football, it’s about us winning games of football,” Postecoglou told reporters after a recent 2-1 defeat by West Ham.

Alongside his bold tactics, the Australian has also been credited with getting the most out of his squad, having overseen upticks in the performances of the likes of Pedro Porro, Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr.

‘Band of brothers’

After Mauricio Pochettino took Spurs to the unimaginable heights of the Champions League final in 2019, it appeared as though the club was on the precipice of something special.

But Pochettino was sacked later that year and the team went on to endure the tumultuous tenures of José Mourinho, Nuno Espírito Santo and Conte.

Tottenham was in a spiral – and things somehow got worse. The club was plagued by a transfer saga in the summer of 2023 revolving around its all-time record goalscorer, Harry Kane, who was eventually sold to German side Bayern Munich the day before Spurs’ first game of the 2023/24 season.

Alarm bells were ringing in north London, but Postecoglou has settled things down and set the club on a positive trajectory.

“In comparison to last season, it looks like a really happy camp,” said Sacks. “Everybody is performing for each other. It looks like a band of brothers.”

The Spurs squad has spoken positively of the manager since his arrival, while fans of all teams seem to appreciate his likeability and transparency.

“What you see is what you get,” said Duncan. “He’s so good to work for because he’s absolutely a straight talker. He knows exactly what he wants and it’s so good because you can get on and do your job.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou embraces Son Heung-min after substituting him during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 30, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Duncan describes Postecoglou as a leader who lets his players and staff do their jobs without micromanaging them.

“He is very receptive, innovative and interested and he inspires you to be innovative as well,” he added.

Sacks, who stresses that the club’s board needs to do its part and back Postecoglou in the transfer market, believes that the team is now back on the right track.

“He’s been here for, what, four or five months? It feels like he’s been for four or five years because he’s built that bond already with supporters,” said Sacks. “He doesn’t cut corners. He doesn’t deviate. He tells you straight what to expect.

“There’s that real human element to him where fans have that automatic connection to the manager.”

Postecoglou appears to have completely changed the culture at Tottenham in his short period of time there and revitalized a fanbase which felt disconnected from the club just six months ago.

As Sacks puts it: “Anything’s achievable at the moment and that’s down to Ange Postecoglou.”