Two of the most illustrious names in Perth Glory history have been reunited as the countdown to Sunday’s blockbusting season-opener against Brisbane Roar at Patersons Stadium continues.
Two of the most illustrious names in Perth Glory history have been reunited as the countdown to Sunday-s blockbusting season-opener against Brisbane Roar at Patersons Stadium continues.
Legendary former coach Bernd Stange and club record-goalscorer Bobby Despotovski fronted the media to discuss not only Glory-s Grand Final re-match, but also the Legends game which will act as a curtain-raiser ahead of the main event.
Kicking off at 12.45pm, Stange will lead a team of Glory glitterati including Despotovski, Jamie Harnwell, Scott Miller, Shaun Murphy and Gareth Naven against a similarly star-studded ex-WA State and International side featuring the Wingell brothers, Alan MacKenzie and Paul Strudwick among others, with another former Glory coach, Gary Marocchi, at the helm.
Despotovski was quick to point out how much he is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Glory-s finest and paid a special tribute to Stange who famously led the club to their inaugural NSL Grand Final in 2000.
“Seeing Bernd again has brought all the old memories back”, said Despotovski, “and I-m really looking forward to being coached again by the great man.
“When Bernd was coaching Glory he touched so many people and actually saved so many careers as well, mine included.
“I think he took the game here to the next level with everything he did at Perth Glory.
“The whole package of Bernd was great for Glory and great for the people of Perth.”
Stange, meanwhile, declared that he is delighted to be back in Perth, even though his return to the site of Wollongong-s dramatic second-half comeback in that 2000 Final revived painful memories.
“It-s an emotional return for me to Perth Glory”, he said.
“I still have so many friends here and the journalists are still the same and looking good!
“The greatest memory of my time here is of course the Grand Final which we lost against Wollongong.
“We were 3-0 up at half-time and I thought it was impossible for us to lose the game from that position, but as we-ve seen more recently with Milan and Liverpool (2005 Champions League Final), that-s just football, that-s part of the game.”
Liverpool did of course go on to triumph in a penalty shoot-out on that incredible night in Istanbul and the subject of spot-kicks brought Stange onto the Besart Berisha incident that ultimately decided last season-s Grand Final in Brisbane-s favour.
“With that late penalty, I was waiting for the player to run to the referee and tell him it wasn-t a penalty and win the fair play award, but of course it didn-t happen.
“He definitely dived and should have told the referee that he had made an error.
“Miroslav Klose did that last week for Lazio when he scored a goal (in a Serie A game v Napoli) with his hand and went and told the referee it wasn-t a goal.
“That-s fair play.
“I wouldn-t be happy to win such a game with a penalty like Berisha-s.”
Despotovski echoed his former boss-s sentiments, although he did offer some words of sympathy for much-maligned referee Jarred Gillett.
“I truly believe he (Berisha) missed the ball completely and took the dive”, he said. “It was inappropriate and we don-t need that in the game, but it was a difficult position for the referee and he has to make a split-second decision.”
The last word was then left to Stange, with the 64-year-old predicting that just as they did in the wake of the 2000 Wollongong defeat, Glory can use the pain of that cruel reverse at Suncorp Stadium as a springboard for future success.
“The future is bright for Glory”, enthused the German.
“It-s taken five years to come out of the slump, but the club is now in a much better place and really looking good.”