When Sydney FC Assistant Coach Paul Reid scored a dramatic last-minute equaliser in the 2000 NSL Grand Final, training other players was far from his mind.
But after winning the Isuzu UTE A-League Championship and Premiership double as a coach with Sydney FC two decades later, Reid knew his transition from playing to coaching was a worthwhile decision.
Head Coach Steve Corica appointed the former Socceroo as an assistant coach in July 2019, but Reid was already familiar with life in Sky Blue, playing one season for Sydney FC in 2012/13 and becoming a grassroots Community Football Officer for the club shortly after departing for Rockdale Ilinden.
I have a real passion for coaching the younger generationPaul Reid
“I don’t think there are enough past players that get into it [coaching],” said Reid.
“You know I understand why some players don’t do it, they’ve been so focused on football throughout their career that they want to have a break from it.
“I have a real passion for coaching the younger generation and I actually want to see kids develop and I want to see the game grow and having past players coaching I think plays a huge role.
“They can obviously relay a lot of information that they’ve learned through their career to these youngsters. If there are past players that have ambition to do it then I think we should try and develop those pathways for becoming coaches as well to help the youth.”
A back-to-back winner of the NSL with the Wollongong Wolves in 1999/2000 and 2000/01, Reid applied his trade in midfield during his playing days and scored a last-gasp equaliser to comeback from three goals down in the 2000 NSL Grand Final – going on to lift the trophy after beating Perth Glory 7-6 on penalties.
The former-midfielder mixed it with the best across the nation and was capped twice for the Australian national side during Asian Cup qualifiers in 2009 after spells at Brighton and Bradford in the UK.
“Growing up I always wanted to play in England,” Reid explained. “The Premier League was on SBS and that was what every young footballer did at the time, everyone had dreams of playing in England and obviously playing for your country.
“The supporters are passionate over there, everyone wants to just go and support their local team and it’s ruthless over there. Every young kid wants to play but they’ve got to work hard, there’s a fight for their positions and in the grand scheme of things over there not many kids make it.
“But they’ll do anything to be a professional footballer so the passion over there is amazing, you’d like to see that happening in Australia eventually with the amount of passion the supporters have and really competitive youth football.
“I have many memories of sold out stadiums that you play in front of and big FA Cup games against Premier League teams. One that probably sticks out for me is the play-off final at Brighton when we beat Bristol City to get promoted to the Championship … Wembley was getting redone at the time so the game was at the Millennium in Cardiff and there were like 66,000 there, it was great.”
Outside of England, Reid’s career also saw him play for the likes of Marconi, Macarthur Rams, Adelaide United, Melbourne Heart, Police United in Thailand, and Rockdale Ilinden – with the latter being the start of his coaching career in 2015.
“I never thought I would actually enjoy coaching senior players,” Reid said.
“While I was still playing for Ilinden the coach got sacked and I remember the club president ringing me afterwards and saying, ‘look, we’ve sacked the coach, we feel we would like you to be player-coach in the interim until we find a new coach.’”
“I never even thought about getting into coaching so I got thrown into the deep-end a little bit but the main reason I actually took it was because at that time we were rock bottom of the club championship and I thought if anyone can do it in the club it’s me.
“I thought if we bring in another coach we don’t know who it’s going to be, we don’t know how they’re going to change things. But I had my own ideas and I had enough experience from playing, from learning from different coaches. Even coaches that I haven’t liked through my career I’ve taken little bits and pieces from how they operate.”
Eventually Reid would hang up his boots in 2018 to solely become the head coach of at Rockdale – going on to join Sydney FC a year later as an assistant coach to Steve Corica.
Part of Reid’s role is in the analysis team which conducts video analysis in the coaches’ box on matchday – relaying the onscreen data to the coaching staff on the touchline.
“A huge difference to when I was playing to now is the amount of analysis that goes on to analyse your players, your team, but then you also analyse the opposition, individual players and their team,” the former Socceroo said.
“We watch many games, we watch training and we record everything … there’s a lot of data, the players wear GPS and they log everything. You want to get that little bit of an extra advantage over the opposition team so the more you know the better.”
Also part of the recruitment team, Reid was involved in the restructuring of the Sydney FC squad during the latest off-season.
Twelve players departed the club at the close of the 2021/22 campaign with an influx of players also joining – including the star power of Robert Mak, Jack Rodwell and Joe Lolley.
“Last off-season was probably the hardest four to six months of my football career,” said Reid.
“It’s part of my role but we had quite a bit of recruiting to do, we revamped the squad and it was difficult because you’re not just recruiting Australian bodies, you’ve got to actually recruit foreigners too.
“There’s a lot that goes into it, you review players and you’re speaking to agents and the players. It was tough.”
Although the new-look Sky Blues side is still gelling and is yet to hit their peak this season in the A-League, Reid remains confident that the team will soon flourish.
“We’re happy with how it’s going, we’re very comfortable with where we’re at. We’ve brought it some really good players and to complement the players that we’ve already got.
“You never rest in football, I’ve come to learn that there’s no downtime. Once you’re in football you’re fully entrenched in it and you either love it or you don’t, and I love football.
“I love being part of this club and always doing more.”