Ron Smith remembers the first time he coached future A-League, Socceroo and Celtic playmaker Tom Rogic.
“He was a little squirt!” Smith tells FTBL with a laugh.
“Tommy was one of a number of boys with talent but at 10 years old, Tom was the youngest in the group.
“I’ve always liked players who can dribble and Tommy Rogic was in that bracket.
“He had a nice drop of the shoulder so we expanded on his technique.
“And he had that confidence," Smith says of the Celtic man.
“He wouldn’t hesitate to take a player on."
From squirt to Bhoy, Rogic the man-mountain has become a modern-day Celtic great.
Back in 2003, Smith was coaching Canberra’s elite juniors, and Rogic’s skill struck a chord with the super coach.
In 2011, Smith nominated the then 18-year-old for the Nike Chance global event in London.
Rogic, who’d seemingly missed the A-League contract boat, sailed through heats in Australia (alongside Kiwi international Tom Doyle).
And Rogic impressed so much in London, he won a spot at the Nike Academy.
Work permit issues scuppered Rogic’s career after the Nike academy.
But a stint in the A-League and a national team call up was the platform for a move to Celtic by 2013.
“Celtic was the perfect fit at the time,” adds Smith, who’s coaching resume spans five decades across Australian technical roles, the A-League, England, and in Malaysia.
“To get the most out of him [Rogic] he needed to be in a team that was going to be dominant rather than dominated.”
Smith suggests Rogic’s next move - if indeed there is one away from Celtic - would be to a team that has more of the ball rather than one that is battling in the lower end of a table.
“It’d be a great circle to complete to have Tommy come back to the A-League when he’s older,” adds Smith, who has also coached A-League club Perth Glory.
But for now, the A-League and Canberra remain tantalizingly close after almost 13 years since the capital first dipped its toes in the A-League bid process.
Smith has a strong bond with Canberra having lived and worked there most of his life.
And he wants to find the next Rogic, George Timotheou or Ned Zelic.
So naturally, Smith is on board with Canberra’s bid for the A-League.