Xanthi was bought by Sydney Olympic president Bill Papas with the public aim of turning the club into a stepping stone for Australian talent in Europe.

Papas recruited Popovic and Kalac to manage the club, and then the likes of Josh Brillante, Paul Izzo and Matt Jurman to play for the second-tier Greek side.

However Xanthi sacked Popovic after a handful of games, with the club fifth in the league and four points off top place.

"Disgraceful is the word. I played three, four months in Greece so I actually knew what was coming but the whole thing in Greece was the adventure and the project we were promised," Kalac told The Football Coaching Life Podcast. 

"I was a head coach of Sydney United at the time so I was taking another path in this opportunity.

"It was incredible. In the middle of a pandemic we leave really good jobs in Australia to go and support this club and the owners and to help achieve what they wanted. And we didn’t get the opportunity because of sabotage - simple as that.

"They sabotaged us and I don’t think they realised how lucky they were to have a manager like Popa there. We all know what Popa’s achieved as a manager.

"To get rid of him like that, it was a sabotage, they wanted him out because they couldn’t handle them not making decisions.

"I was there to support Popa and help him achieve what he wanted to achieve. That was my job as a goalkeeper coach. Support the manager, work the goalkeepers, make sure they save the ball or keep the ball out of the back of the net - that’s it."

Izzo, Jurman, Brillante and Callan Elliot all remained at the club after Popovic's departure and continued to play large roles in the club narrowly missing out on Greek promotion this year, losing their play-off final.

It's now unclear where the A-League stars will end up next season, but Kalac says he wouldn't take on a role in unfamiliar territory again, with Popovic set to take the reigns at Melbourne Victory next season.

"The one thing that I wouldn’t do again is I wouldn’t go work outside in a group of people I don’t know," Kalac continued.

"In football as a professional environment I would only work with people that I trust, that I can support, that I know won’t stab me in the back.

"I can’t take anymore of that sh*t at my age. I want honesty and people I can trust and work hard with." 

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