Victory to add Joe Palatsides as Head of Academy

November 10 Update: Melbourne Victory has confirmed the appointment of Joe Palatsides as Head of Academy:

Original Story Published on November 9:

Melbourne Victory’s rebuild has added another key piece, with youth guru Joe Palatsides set to be unveiled as the fallen A-League Men giant’s new Head of Academy. 

At a press conference on Tuesday evening, the Singaporean FA confirmed that Palatsides, 56, was stepping down from his post after spending the past two and a half COVID-affected years as the Technical Director of the nation, where he helped draft the rising city-state’s ‘Unleash The Roar’ developmental plan in support of its goal of qualifying for the 2034 World Cup. 

“It has been an honour and a privilege to have been part of this organization and I thank the FAS President and the Council for their support over the past two and half years,” Palatsides said in a statement.

“I am disappointed that I am unable to finish what I originally set out to do and I apologise that unfortunately the COVID-19 circumstances have resulted with me having to make this very difficult decision to end this relationship prematurely. I take heart by the fact that the team I am leaving behind in the FAS are dedicated and motivated individuals who are determined to continue the objective of elevating Singapore football.”

It is understood by JDL Media he has negotiated permanent return home to his family and a return to Australian football with the four-time A-League Men champions.

Melbourne Victory declined to comment.

Palatsides is most well-known in Australia for stints as a player in the National Soccer League (NSL) — which included South Melbourne’s 88th-minute equaliser in the famous 1990-91 Grand Final under Ferenc Puskás — and as an academy mentor at Melbourne Heart/City. 

See Also: Why does Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas have a statue in Melbourne?

Working alongside Victory’s current Director of Football John Didulica prior to and following the City Football Group’s takeover of Heart, Palatsides was a key figure in turning the then-Bundoora based outfit into one of Australia’s great talent incubators, before he departed during the tenure of Warren Joyce. 

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Current Socceroos Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe, and Daniel Arzani all spent time under his charge, as did the likes of Stefan Mauk, Nathaniel Atkinson, Dylan Pierias, Matt Millar, Ramy Najjarine, Josh Cavallo, and James Delianov. Further, in an additional twist to the rivalry between the ‘Pala’s’ new and former employer, City’s current A-League Men coaching staff of Patrick Kisnorbo, Ralph Napoli, and Petr Kratky all had coaching roles in their club’s academy during his time in charge. 

Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio made 18 appearances with one goal and three assists for Victory in 2020-21
Image Credit: Melbourne Victory/Chris Gospel​

It is understood that Palatsides will steer Victory’s teams in the NPL Victoria and A-League Youth competitions in addition to his role as Head of Academy; itself set to undergo a major shake-up as the club seeks to re-establish itself as the big dog’s in Melbourne’s A-Leagues scene.  

Victory legend Rodrigo Vargas will serve as the club’s U21 coach, while luminaries such as Archie Thompson, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Joey Didulica, Sasha Ognenovski, Gaby Garton and more have all been tapped to serve as mentors.  

Victory’s academy, which abolished fees under former boss Drew Sherman in 2019, has developed the likes of Birkan Kirdar, Nishan Velupillay, and William Wilson for the senior side in recent years, as well as recruited Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio, Lleyton Brooks, Josh Varga and Gianluca Iannucci from rival clubs. 

However, much to fans chagrin, the club has struggled to consistently produce top-flight contributors in recent years; a combination of philosophical direction, investment, and other factors meaning Victory was routinely outpaced when it came to graduates and junior national team representatives by the likes of City, Western Sydney Wanderers, Adelaide United, and Sydney FC.

See Also: John Aloisi making some big changes at Western United

See Also: Socceroos relishing Australian return as Johnson pushes states to come to the table for future internationals

Now, Palatsides be responsible for developing further talent for the A-League Men side of new coach Tony Popovic, who will take charge in his first competitive fixture at the four-time champions when they open their A-League Men campaign against Western United on November 20. 

Combined with the existing presence of widely respected A-League Women coach and junior girl’s mentor Jeff Hopkins the trio, on paper, suddenly gives Victory one of the strongest football departments across the A-Leagues. 

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne Victory/Chris Gospel​

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