The global icon who inspires giant killing Angel

As he plots to try and bring down the world’s most successful football club, Ange Postecoglou continues to draw inspiration from his personal connection with Real Madrid royalty.

Celtic manager Postecoglou played under the late Ferenc Puskas during the Hungarian icon’s stint as South Melbourne coach in 1989-92.

It was an unlikely marriage between a humble Australian club and one of the unquestioned greatest footballers of all-time, a man who scored a remarkable 242 goals in 262 games for the swaggering Madrid teams of the 1950s and 1960s.

Watch Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic and the world’s best footballers in the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League, streaming ad-free, live and exclusive on Stan Sport

So gifted was the diminutive attacker, FIFA gives out the Puskas Award each season to the player who scored the most beautiful goal in world football.

“The connection with Ferenc Puskas was just one of those bizarre set of circumstances that only football can throw together, where one of the world’s greatest ever players ends up at a club like South Melbourne, all that time ago,” Postecoglou told Stan Sport FC ahead of Celtic’s Champions League opener against Madrid on September 7.

“While we appreciated the fact that we did have a legend in our dressing room, we certainly took every advantage of trying to just drill him for information.

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“He was the most humble, respectful guy, you know. He’d done everything in the game and always downplayed things.

“But we always asked him about that Real Madrid team, we always asked him about that Hungarian team that went to Wembley (1953 ‘match of the century’ 6-3 win against England), the Real Madrid team here at Hampden (Park) in Scotland, won the European Cup against Eintracht Frankfurt (7-3 in 1960).”

Postecoglou played four games for the Socceroos in the late 1980s and was understandably a sponge under Puskas’ tutelage.

“Just to hear him talk about it – he was such a lover of football that was really attacking and expansive. I remember even back then, we used to have Kimon Taliadoros and Peter Tsolakis on the wing. I was a fullback and I used to get seven or eight players running at me and he just used to tell Kimon and Pete ‘stay on the halfway line.’

“All my complaints would fall on deaf ears. He used to tell me ‘they’re here to watch the wingers Ange, they’re not here to watch you.’

“That kind of resonated with me at the time, it was the kind of football that I really loved as well, that was passed on to me by my dad and it’s the kind of football I want my teams to play as a manager. So it had a real big influence.”

NEW PODCAST! Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou joins Max Rushden, Craig Foster and Mark Bosnich to discuss his side going up against defending champions Real Madrid, Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk and German giants RB Leipzig

After a shaky start, Postecoglou is now a smash hit in Scotland.

He has Celtic flying, winning the Scottish Premiership in his first season in charge and blitzing Dundee United 9-0 on Sunday with some sublime football.

Bigger tests await, in fact the biggest of all, as Celtic brace for the might of European champions Madrid in Glasgow.

Madrid are the most successful football club on the planet and captured a record-extending 14th European crown when they beat Liverpool in last season’s final.

Carlo Ancelotti’s star-studded squad includes luminaries Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Thibaut Courtois.

But former Socceroos manager Postecoglou isn’t the type to be overawed by any challenge and drew confidence from Celtic’s growth in the Europa League last season.

Ange’s Celtic put nine goals past Dundee United

Celtic finished third in Group G with three wins and three losses.

“I think last year being in Europe, the connection there, we went out there to test ourselves and measure ourselves,” Postecoglou said.

“While we didn’t have success in the kind of way that people measure success, I still felt there was progress there in terms of going out there and knowing what our capabilities are, what potential weaknesses we have.

“We got spanked by Leverkusen at home, 4-0, but we ended up winning three group games in the Europa League.”

Celtic’s strong Australian contingent also features assistant coach Harry Kewell and Socceroos midfielder Aaron Mooy.

Celtic were also drawn with Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk and German club RB Leipzig in Group F at a glitzy ceremony in Istanbul on Friday.

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