Ex-Gippsland Falcons defender Manny Gelagotis says Football Federation Australia showed little respect to people who built football down under when the A-League was introduced in 2005.
Gelagotis, who is now in the horse racing industry, is adamant he is not comparing the old National Soccer League to the A-League, but said many former players have lost connection with the game.
The former defender – known then as Manny Gotis – earned himself a reputation of being a fierce competitor and said most supporters who followed the NSL don’t support the A-League.
While he acknowledged that the A-League was brought in for a reason, he said many former greats have been forgotten.
And Gelagotis said the FFA did not pay enough respect to migrants who helped develop football in Australia.
“There’s been a massive disconnection since the A-League was introduced,” Gelagotis told FourFourTwo.
“Where are the people who used to support Melbourne Knights, Heidelberg United, South Melbourne, Green Gully and all those big clubs?
“FFA showed minimal respect to the people who built this game and they should be indebted to these people.
“It’s disappointing that most players who played in the NSL has lost contact in the game. We don’t belong to anyone, who do we belong to?
"Unless you’re a Socceroo, you don’t get invited anywhere and you’re not part of a discussion group which I feel is a letdown.
“I went to John Hutchinson’s testimonial and I took Frank Arok, he was out from overseas and Frank came and saw me because I’m always in touch with him. He was one of our longest serving Socceroos coaches.
“We went to Gosford to surprise Hutchy on his testimonial and David Gallop gave him nothing, absolutely nothing.
"Who does Gallop think he is and what would he know about people's passion for the game - people like Frank created these modern opportunites."
“It’s not about me, Frank Arok is a legend. He’s one of my greatest coaches and I love him. He’s an icon of our game and we owe those people, he created amazing results out of nothing.
“Ange Postecoglou was his protégé, Frank was his boss and I can assure he uses a lot of his tricks and coaching methods. I’m just saying, not everyone is stupid.”
Gotis also said there was a problem in youth development and that there is a big step-up to the highest level, however he cannot put his finger on it.
Last week Archie Thompson said the depth in the NSL was better and had more opportunities for teenagers to apply their trade early.
“I saw a recent article on FourFourTwo with Archie saying NSL was better, I believe it had a lot more depth and there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“I think there were better players that didn’t have the right opportunities in terms of being able to go full-time. I don’t see any Paul Trimbolis, Oscar Crinos or any of those dynamic footballers coming through this era.
“We’re still the most participated sport in schools and everyone is saying ‘oh, one day soccer is going to take over’.
"Bloody hell, they were saying that back in the 80s. I’m not negative about it, but there seems to be a gap.
“People always rave on about the participation rate, but where do all these kids end up? Where are they? There’s a gap difference in all those talented kids who don’t break through.
“History doesn’t lie, we’ve had a golden generation and now you look at it… To be quite truthful if there were no foreigners in this country, the A-League would be very mediocre.
“There were more clubs and opportunity in the NSL and even the regional centres were a lot stronger. Now I find the game is dwindling a bit and the costs are too high.”