A-League championship winner and 2012-2013 golden boot Daniel McBreen still hasn’t got the playing bug out of his system at 39, but the coaching bug has already bitten down hard on him.
McBreen revealed to The World Game how his former coach at Central Coast Mariners, now Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold, encouraged him to get into coaching and that he now wants to go as far as he can in the cut-throat profession.
“I coach the Emerging Jets under 15s, I coach at the International Football School on the Central Coast and I also coach the school team at Hunter Sports High in Newcastle. I’m quite busy at the moment,” McBreen said.
“To be honest, when I was about 30 coaching wasn’t something I was really interested in and then the older I got the more I thought I wouldn’t mind doing it.
“Working with Graham Arnold, I had a lot of conversations with him and he thought it was a path I should take and that I would do well at it and as time went on I thought that myself.
“So as I got nearer to the end of my playing career it was something I thought about more and more that I wanted to do.
“I was a qualified mortgage broker, but when I finished playing in Asia I talked to my wife about coaching as a possible future and we decided the best way to go for me was to do what I wanted to do and be happy with what I was doing.”
McBreen is enjoying coaching juniors, but he said his ambition was to eventually break into the hustle and bustle of senior, professional football.
“Yeah, I’d like to,” he said. “But I want to earn my stripes first and I think, like in any profession, you’ve got to do your apprenticeship and work your way up and do the hard yards before you can get used to anything that can and does pop up in the football world.
“I want to do it the right way and I do want to end up in first-team football and see where it takes me.”
McBreen played striker in the Arnold-coached Mariners team that won the A-League championship in season 2012-2013. He scored 19 goals, including one from the penalty spot in the 2-0 grand final win over Western Sydney Wanderers, to be the competition’s leading marksman that season.
After joining Chinese club Shanghai East Asia on a five-month loan deal in mid-2013 he returned to Central Coast to play part of the 2013-2014 A-League season before going back to Shanghai East Asia on a one-year-contract.
He continued playing in Asia until he returned to Australia last year, but instead of retiring he decided to play for semi-professional club Edgeworth Eagles in the Northern NSW NPL this season and last week he shared in their 3-0 FFA Cup round of 32 win over FNQ Heat in Cairns.
McBreen said he was tossing up the possibility of playing for Edgeworth again next year, although he admitted his time was being stretched by his increasing coaching responsibilities.
“Yeah, I’ve had a few conversations with my wife about that as well,” he said. “When I retired from professional football I did so at the same time as Leo Bertos and he’s also coaching at the Emerging Jets and we’ve had a lot of conversations about it as well.
“It’s quite a transition, going from 15 to 20 years of doing that and then not being around the boys anymore.
“Edgeworth wanted me to play and I still had the bug to keep playing and it’s a good bunch of blokes there and many people who retired from playing have told me ‘if you retire early you’ll regret it’, so you may as well play as long as you feel you want to and see how it goes.
“I’m already sort of talking to the club about next year and trying to work something out. I guess at the moment the biggest problem is time management with all the coaching I’m doing and trying to get to training and games with Edgeworth.
“I’m living in Newcastle, so it’s Hunter Sports High in the morning, then down the coast to the football school in the afternoon and the Jets in the evening, so I’m doing a bit of travelling and putting the hours in.
“Games can conflict, the 15s boys might be playing at the same time as Edgeworth, so it’s just trying to work out all those variables because if I’m going to coach I want to try and be there as much as possible for the kids and not miss stuff and the same goes for Edgeworth.
“I feel bad when I have to miss training at Edgeworth. The boys are training three nights a week and I can only get there twice, or once, and sometimes I can’t get there at all.
“I think I’d like to keep playing, but we’ll just have to see if we can fit it all in.”