Former Socceroos great Josip Skoko wants plans put in place now for the ultimate aim of eventually winning a World Cup – and insists Australia should think big with him.
"It is alarming the limited players we now have in any European league, not just the top leagues but in any European league. In 2006 we had 100-odd players playing in the decent leagues.
"It's not easy but we need young boys to go over at the right time for them, to make them better and move our sport forward.
"This in turn will lift the quality of the national teams and have a knock on effect like it did during the Golden Generation years. It gives young kids something to aspire too as well when they see our players doing well."
Skoko believes the A-League still had its place and insists there is no right or wrong path for players to take, but he was adamant that going overseas was the best thing for player development.
"The A-League has been set up for the right reasons, but it's being used a bit incorrectly. We need to push through young players into the A-League and give them a season or two and get them recognised so they can go overseas."
Skoko started his decorated career at North Geelong Warriors in Victoria, going through the junior ranks before moving overseas and playing over 400 games of top flight football in Croatia, Belgium, Turkey and England, before returning to Australia to play with Melbourne Heart.
In recent years, Skoko has returned to Elcho Park, where he is currently the Director of Football for the Warriors. He was part of a Board that implemented a new strategy for the club after the 2017 season, which ended with them relegated from NPL1.
The Warriors decided to give their junior products a chance in the senior team, with the move reaping huge dividends in the past two seasons where they finished third in NPL2, narrowly missing out on promotion back to the top flight of Victorian football.
Skoko insists the Warriors model should be how most NPL clubs should work.
"Since I've been there with Joey Didulica, we have brought a whole generation of kids through. That generation we coached from quiet a young age are now in the senior team set up as 17-year-olds.
"From NPL2, if the boys have a good year or two they can move to a higher level like the A-League or go overseas to a higher level league. If we can do this in a mini environment at North Geelong and we can give the boys the opportunity, why not?