Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has spoken for the first time about the transfer deal that destroyed his Euro dream, saw him banged up in jail and turned him to drink.
In the new FTBL Podcast, Rudan reveals how he's gone about revolutionising Wellington Phoenix that has seen the club's fortunes turn around from being an apparent Dead Club Walking to potential Grand Final contenders.
The former Big Blue Man at Sydney FC went on to cut his coaching teeth at Rockdale City Suns and Sydney United in the NPL before finally getting his break in the A-League with the New Zealand side.
Since then he's managed to nurture astonishing match-winning performances out of players like David Williams and Roy Krishna to bring the good times back to Westpac Stadium.
But in the FTBL Podcast, he also reveals how he was almost broken by the sport when a dream move to Europe turned into a police investigation that saw him arrested and jailed.
"It's a part of my life that changed me as a person," he admits. "It's where I lost that little bit of trust..."
As a 25 year old in 2000, Rudan left Sydney NSL side Northern Spirit after paying out his contract to move overseas to join German club Alemannia Aachen as a free agent.
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He immediately fitted into the starting squad and was performing well – but the first sign of trouble came after Rudan had a shocker in a 5-1 thrashing against Borussia Monchengladbach.
As he left the field, Rudan flicked the bird at fans and was caught on camera in the act. The next day, local newspapers carried the pic and flagged a 10,000 Mark fine from the German FA for the gesture.
But they also flagged something else.
Rudan revealed: "I asked a team-mate to translate the article for me and he said they called me the 600,000 Mark man...and I said, 'What do you mean by that?' He said, 'Well, that's what they paid for your transfer...'
"That was the moment where I thought, 'Hang on a sec, I'm a free player.' I got on to the guy acting as my agent and he said, 'Don't worry about it...'
"But that's when the alarm bells started ringing..."
Some 18 months later, police woke him up at home at dawn to arrest him.
"We'd just come back from pre-season in Portugal and at 6am they started knocking on my window," revealed Rudan.
"I thought it was Lozza [Australian team-mate Goran Lozanovski, who been brought in from South Melbourne]. I thought he wanted some bread or milk or something because he was a lazy eater...! He was always pinching something from me.
"But it was three police officers who stormed their way in. It was pretty scary, you know."