Sydney FC Head Coach Steve Corica is something of a specialist in silencing the critics.
As a talented attacker emerging at Marconi Stallions in the National Soccer League, Corica was deemed ‘too lightweight’ to survive the bumps and bruises of top-flight professional football.
But after signing for Leicester City in 1995, he would go on to make more than 115 appearances in the notoriously physical English Championship with them and with Wolverhampton Wanderers – as well as winning 32 caps for the Caltex Socceroos.
Given his relative inexperience, many considered it a risky move when, in May 2018, Corica was named successor as head coach to Graham Arnold, who had built one of the greatest Hyundai A-League sides of all time during his time at Sydney FC.
But, despite an off-season exodus and subsequent huge re-build, it has felt like business as usual for the Sky Blues with Corica at the helm.
His superb debut in the dugout was crowned by Sunday’s Grand Final win over Perth Glory, 13 years after his goal won the inaugural Hyundai A-League Grand Final for Sydney FC over Central Coast Mariners in March 2006.
“I’ve been doubted all my career,” Corica said. “It’s special to win the Grand Final, I won it as a player and I loved it.
“Scoring the [inaugural Grand Final] winner was pretty good, but this is a different moment, a special moment. A lot of work goes into it and it’s paid off in the end. I’m very proud of everyone.
“I knew in the end [that] when it goes the distance our boys have the mentality, the character. They’ve been there before, they’ve done it, and when the pressure is on they’d come up with the goods.”