The influence of Ange Postecoglou was on display again as 2020 ended with another of his assistant coaches being given another head coaching opportunity in Japan.
At the end of 2019 Peter Cklamovski left his position as number two at Yokohama F.Marinos to take over at Shimizu S.Pulse. A year on and it is the turn of Arthur Papas to strike out on his own in Japan.
The 40 year-old has gone west, much further west than his Yokohama predecessor and all the way to Kyushu to take over Kagoshima United. The club spent its first season in the second tier in 2019 but did not manage to survive and returned to J3 where it just missed out on promotion. That is the job of the new man in 2021.
“I am truly grateful to everyone involved in Kagoshima United FC for giving me such an opportunity,” Papas said on his appointment.
“It's one of the most beautiful places in Japan, where people and the city are warm and attractive, and I'm very happy and excited to be able to work for this club. I'm really looking forward to taking on the challenge of reaching the top level of the J-League from Kyushu with passionate and talented players, team staff and supporters.”
Papas may be a young coach but already has quite a resume with time spent working at the Australia Institute for Sport.
There were then spells spent with Newcastle Jets before moving to India where he coached the U-23 national team as well as various clubs. There was even time for a stint in Saudi Arabia.
There is plenty of experience already - there is something to be said for retiring early as a player due to injury.
In late 2018, he received a text from Postecoglou and he was part of that amazing title win the following year.
“It was a victory borne out of hard work and belief, led by a leader with an incredible vision and personal conviction who ensured that we relentlessly pursued success every day,” Papas told Greek site Agona.
Working with Postecoglou, winning the league and to be enveloped in the boss’s philosophy was quite an experience.
“So what made this success so special was that the belief within that to win was not enough," said Papas.
"But to win by playing a special brand of football, to win while staying true to our beliefs, to not view the win as purely three points, but about making sure we provided our fans with an experience that had them on the edge of their seats.
"Our reasons for winning were so much more than three points, and this is what separates Ange as a truly remarkable manager and propelled a group of men to achieve something special."
This is the philosophy that has now found its way to Kagoshima.
"The two years I spent at Yokohama F. Marinos was a very irreplaceable time for me,” said Papas as he left.
“I am very grateful to coach Ange, the players, the team staff, and the F. Marinos family. I am also very grateful to all the wonderful supporters who passionately believed in and supported F. Marinos football and helped the club succeed.
"Winning the league and advancing to the knockout stage in the AFC Champions League shows that F. Marinos is on the right path to becoming a club that will lead Japan and Asia. I was involved in that process as a member of the club. I'm really proud of that.
"Next year, I will continue my career as a coach in a new place in Japan, and I will continue to support F. Marinos.”
The right things have been said now it is time to deliver.
Cklamovski’s time at Shimizu was not a happy one and the Aussie left before the end of the season. It was always going to be tough to take over one of the weaker teams in the league and deal with defeats and life near the bottom.
In sleepy Kyushu, Papa should have time to get to grips with his new job with less pressure and spotlight as he tries to take his new team to the second tier.
The move from Papas not only shows that Postecoglou recruits ambitious people to his staff, people who want to learn and then strike out on their own but shows that Japanese football understands that too.
Working with Postecoglou is not only a great opportunity in itself but is a great opportunity to further your career.
Nobody knows what is going to happen in Kagoshima but it will be fascinating to keep an eye on the third tier of Japanese football.