Abbas Saad speaks to FTBL about the reasons behind Sydney Olympic's historic league and Grand Final double in the NSW NPL this season.
When Spanish coach Gorka Etxeberria departed Sydney Olympic just a week before the NSW NPL season kicked off, the club was without a head coach and on the brink of a crisis.
A SOS was sent out to ex-Olympic legend Abbas Saad who was working as a television commentator in Asia at the time.
Many in his new team would have been too young to remember just how good a player their new coach was in the mid 80s and 90s.
But talk to Olympic fans who witnessed Saad's exploits on the pitch and their eyes light up.
Especially when they recall that 1989/90 NSL season where the striker scored 13 goals and won the Joe Marston Medal for his man of match performance to help the club win its first Grand Final.
Saad was a unique specimen - the type player that is rarely produced in Australia any more, a striker with an eye for goal and great technichal ability.
He could make the crowd surge to their feet in anticipation every time he touched the ball.
Saad played six internationals for the Socceroos and won league and cup titles in Malaysia with Johor and Singapore and has an even bigger cult following in Asia than he does in Australia.
As a player, his quality was without question.
But his time as a coach was limited to a stint with Penrith Nepean United in 2009, head coach of the Australian Deaf Football Team and a spell coaching in Malaysia.
And when he took the reins just a few days before Olympic’s first game of the season against Bonnyrigg, there may have been a few heads being scratched around Belmore.
However, history shows the decision to put the ex-Socceroo in charge was inspired.
The highlight was Olympic's performance in last weekend's Grand Final win over APIA 3-1 that earned the club an historic double after winning the league a few weeks earlier - a feat which hasn’t been achieved since 2011.
So what’s been the secret to his success?
“Obviously the tactical side is one thing, but it’s the confidence and belief that I’ve given the players,” he said speaking to FTBL.
“Coaching, a lot of it is man management. I know that being a former player it’s about how you are managed and how you can get the best out of the player.
“That’s probably my strength – getting the best out of the players and playing to a certain structure, an entertaining structure that they believe in.
“All players need to believe in the project that you are preaching to them and they have believed in the project this season and it's a credit to them.
“It comes down to hard work and at the end of the day the players have worked hard to reach success and I think they have done that as a group.”