Corica’s 13-year journey from star to Sydney FC’s head coach

When you think of Sydney FC and the success the club has enjoyed since the inception of the Hyundai A-League, the name Steve Corica is one constant among it all.

Cut the 45-year-old open and there’s a good chance he’ll bleed Sky Blue.

So it should come as no surprise that when the club’s most successful coach Graham Arnold announced he would quit the role to become the next Caltex Socceroos boss, there was really only one name to be his successor.

READ: Corica: I'll do things my way at Sydney FC

READ: Sydney FC confirm Steve Corica as Graham Arnold's successor

Corica was on Wednesday confirmed as the new Sydney FC coach and in doing so completing a remarkable journey at the club which started more than 13 years ago.

It was early in the year 2005 when after more than a decade playing abroad in England and Japan, Corica decided to return home to play in the inaugural season of the Hyundai A-League.

While he was born in Queensland, it was Sydney club Marconi Stallions that gave the attacking midfielder his professional footballing start, so it was no surprise when he opted to join the Sky Blues.

With German World Cup winner Pierre Littbarski as coach and ex-Manchester United and Aston Villa star Dwight Yorke as the marquee recruit, Sydney FC – or ‘Bling FC’ as they were known – was the team to beat.

It was an inauspicious start for Corica, sent off in just his third appearance for a poor challenge against Newcastle Jets.

But Corica’s class, experience and ability to deliver on the big stage eventually shone through in that 2005/06 Season.

Steve Corica celebrates his winning goal in the 2006 Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
Steve Corica celebrates his winning goal in the 2006 Hyundai A-League Grand Final.

In the biggest game of all – the inaugural Hyundai A-League Grand Final – Corica scored the only goal of the game with a pinpoint finish from Yorke’s lay-off as the Sky Blues lived-up to the pre-season hype to defeat Central Coast Mariners.

For Corica, it was instant club legend status.

The 32-cap Caltex Socceroo played another four seasons for the club, with the final campaign bringing even more success.

Unfortunately for Corica a hamstring injury – suffered in the famous final round win over Melbourne Victory which handed the Sky Blues the Premiers’ Plate – kept him out of the decider.

But even without the veteran midfielder on the pitch, Sydney FC completed the double with a dramatic penalty-shout triumph over Victory at Etihad Stadium.

After his playing retirement, Corica immediately went into coaching, taking charge of Sydney FC’s National Youth League team the following season.

More Grand Final glory for Corica and Sydney FC in 2010.
More Grand Final glory for Corica and Sydney FC in 2010.
Steve Corica; Graham Arnold
Steve Corica worked under Graham Arnold for four seasons

The following season he graduated to Hyundai A-League assistant coach under Vitezslav Lavicka.

And it’s a role he has performed ever since, also working under the likes of Frank Farina and most recently Arnold.

Corica has remained the same right throughout his time at the Sky Blues - mild-mannered and softly spoken – but with a fierce desire to win.

Like he said at his unveiling as the new boss on Wednesday, he’ll do things his way and put his own stamp on this record-breaking Sydney FC squad.

It will be interesting to see if he can transfer what he has learned as a ‘number 2’ to the top job in a role which is as much about man-management as it is tactics.

But if his history at the club is anything to go by, then Corica seems the right man for the job.

Steve Corica gets his message across on the training pitch during his seven years as an assistant.
Steve Corica gets his message across on the training pitch during his seven years as an assistant.