Jedinak at crossroads as coaching career beckons

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Former Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak is refusing to rule out the possibility of a return to action after 18 months in limbo.

But with his 36th birthday looming, and the acquisition of a UEFA ‘A’ coaching license also imminent, a future imparting a wealth of knowledge to football’s next generation appears the most likely path for the ex-Crystal Palace and Aston Villa enforcer.

To long-time suitors Macarthur FC - the A-League expansion club nestled in the Sydney heartland close to where Jedinak grew up - he does, however, offer a crumb of hope.

Speaking from his home in the Midlands - not far from Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training base where he’s been cutting his teeth as an ad-hoc academy coach - Jedinak told The World Game: “You try and keep fit, wait for (playing) opportunities and you don’t know what’s around the corner. You never rule anything out.

“As long as you’re willing and able you have to see which way it can go.

“You take every day as it is and you plan a bit but, as things stand, not too far into the future

“I have other priorities at the minute with family and stuff but I’m keeping all options open.”

Jedinak’s last competitive match for Villa was in September 2018. He was released in mid-2019 and speculation has centered since on a possible homecoming as a Macarthur marquee.

However, with sons Andre, 8, Alex, 6, both involved in the Villa junior setup, and 79-cap Jedinak actively pursuing a second calling as a coach, lacing on the boots in anger again becomes a more remote prospect with each passing week.

The COVID-19 closedown, and the uncertainty that has brought, has added another layer of complexity to Jedinak’s decision-making process.

His transition into coaching has been a work in progress. Jedinak took his UEFA ‘B’ license while he was still playing at the elite level and his leadership qualities and analytical attributes appear tailor made for the craft.

He’s had a taste of it at the Villa academy, and has kept in touch since the coronavirus hiatus.

“I’m keeping in regular contact with the coaching staff there and I know they’re charging ahead as best they can,” he added.

“I was working a bit with the U-15s and U-16s and we’ll see where we go with this when it’s all said and done. I should be finishing the ‘A’ license very soon.”

Having his sons training at the Villans’ academy gives Jedinak extra cause to stay put in the UK.

Asked whether either were trying to follow in his footsteps, Jedinak replied: “They’re both having a go and we’ll see where it goes.

“I’m sure they’re going to try. They have that interest at the moment and we’ll try and nurture that as much as we can, as you do as parents.

“You never know ... they’re a bit too young and you never know where it’s going to go.”