Stellar export Joe Montemurro has spurned the temptation to bask in personal glory, insisting his nomination for next month’s The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award is further proof Australian mentors can mix it with the best.
With Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama F. Marinos lying fourth in Japan’s J1 League and the former A-League combo of John van’t Schip and Michael Valkanis landing the Greece job, the Arsenal women’s coach believes there is no glass ceiling to success for Australians abroad.
Former Melbourne Victory torchbearer Kevin Muscat is also actively seeking for an overseas gig and Montemurro is happy to play the role of trailblazer.
“For me, I hope this nomination is another little notch in setting the standards for Australian coaches,” the Women’s Super League title-winner told The World Game.
“I hope I can be an inspiration or a torchbearer if you like for Australian coaches to reach the high levels.
“Sometimes I think we under-estimate ourselves a bit and don’t think we can attain these sorts of levels in the game. But we can.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have received a little bit of recognition but there are others doing great work in Australia and worldwide.
“We should consider ourselves worthy of aspiring to the very highest levels.”
Montemurro initially thought his nomination was a prank pulled by an ex-player.
“It was a total surprise - I said on social media I thought it was a player playing a joke,” he said.
“I am the representative of a team and a staff who did an amazing job last season and it’s a great honour.”
Just five years after journeying into women’s football with Melbourne Victory and then Melbourne City, whom he led to a W-League premiership-championship double in 2016, Montemurro will this year pilot Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.
The one-time assistant to John van’t Schip, Michael Valkanis and Warren Joyce at City hasn’t ruled out a return to the men’s game at some stage.
But he has plenty of challenges to keep him occupied until then at the club he idolised as a boy growing up in Melbourne.
He’s kept a close eye on the deeds of former Socceroos boss Postecoglou in Japan, adding: “Until we are given the opportunity and exposure to reach the upper levels we can’t set benchmarks.
“But hopefully myself, Ange and others will do that and prove we can thrive among the best of the best.
“There’s also an opportunity there for Michael (Valkanis with Greece).
“He came to Europe to test himself in the Netherlands with JVS (John van’t Schip at PEC Zwolle) and has stuck at it and now this opportunity with the Greek national team has opened up.
“I had JVS visit me in London last week to look at a couple of the Greek players at Arsenal.
“He was outlining the role for himself (and Valkanis) with Greece and it’s exciting to have one of us as the assistant coach of a major European nation going into Euros and World Cup qualifying. It’s pretty incredible.
“Michael’s a very good coach ... he was maybe a victim (in Australia) like myself of not having a high profile and having to look for opportunities elsewhere.
“That’s the way it is in Australia and we work with it.
“We were all together for two years at Melbourne City and there’s a bond there and we keep in regular contact.”
Whilst he’ll be on his way to Milan on September 23 for the gala awards ceremony, Montemurro’s main preoccupation surrounding European excursions will be the UEFA Women's Champions League.
“When I took over (21 months ago) the Champions League was always our target (after a three year absence),” he said.
“We’ve got Fiorentina in the round of 32 and they have a bit of Champions League experience.
“But we’ve been preparing for it. Our pre-season has been based on playing some of the best teams in Europe in Wolfsburg, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. That’s three of the top four teams.”
Domestically expectations are running high at the prospect of back-to-back titles.
“It will be tough ... Manchester United and Manchester City have gone out into the market and built well,” he said.
“But we’ve also brought in five players and we’re happy with that and we have some coming back from long-term injuries.”