EXCLUSIVE: Graham Arnold's surprise coaching peak

Undoubtedly one of the Hyundai A-League's greatest ever coaches, Graham Arnold's ascension to the top of Australia's managerial ranks has gathered pace since joining Sydney FC.

He guided the Sky Blues to a dominant double last season – becoming the first man to win the Grand Final with multiple clubs – and has now claimed all three major domestic trophies in a single calendar year. 

So why does Arnold not regard his achievements with Sydney as his best work?

We caught up with Guus Hiddink’s former right-hand man to find out about his proudest coaching moments in our ‘Extra Time’ series.


"It was fantastic to coach the Olympic team that qualified for the Olympics in 2008," Arnold told a-league.com.au.

"Also to coach my country, even though I was only interim coach in 2007 with the Socceroos.

"People talk about the job I've done at Sydney FC but I think the best job I've done was at Central Coast Mariners.

Graham Arnold Mariners Grand Final
Arnold led the Mariners to their maiden Grand Final victory in 2013.

"We had a lot of young kids, no marquees and no money.

"Working at 80 per cent of the salary cap and winning a Premiership and a Championship there was probably a bigger achievement than what I've done at Sydney."

During his time in Gosford, Arnold and the Mariners became renowned for providing opportunities to emerging talent and nurturing their development.

The ex-Caltex Socceroos captain has enjoyed watching several of his pupils become national team stars and still keeps a keen eye on their progress.

"I stay in touch with Maty Ryan, Trent Sainsbury and Tommy Rogic," he said.

"I'm very proud of them.

Graham Arnold Tom Rogic
Tom Rogic honed his craft under Arnold.

"I watch them closely because they're special kids and it's great to see them doing so well."

And it's easy to see how the 54-year-old's approach to man management creates those lasting bonds.

"I try to treat the players like they're my children. I care about their families and I care about the individual," Arnold added.

"I've learned a lot from good people in the game of coaching.

"The most important thing for me is that I try to help people, get the best out of them and help them with their careers.

"If I can do that, I'm very proud."

Graham Arnold