Ruben Zadkovich can still remember the phone call from Ange Postecoglou almost 20 years ago, one that changed his life and is still shaping the way Brisbane Roar’s new Head Coach goes about his business.

From Postecoglou and Graham Arnold to a World Cup winner and an English maverick, Zadkovich has taken ideas and inspiration from most of the coaches he played under in England, in the A-League and at every level for Australia.

It says a lot that someone whose playing days were ended at the age of 27 by a knee injury speaks of mentoring and developing young players as one of the biggest reasons he is now a coach – remembering the trials and tribulations he went through in establishing a professional career based in his own words on work ethic and desire as much as talent.

It all influences him daily on the training ground, determined to instil a controlling, attacking style as he plans for next season and beyond at the helm of a Roar squad stuffed with exciting young talent.

And those ambitions mean the references to Postecoglou make even more sense, two decades after the Tottenham coach was in charge of the Australian youth teams.

“I was in England playing at Notts County on loan from QPR in 2005,” Zadkovich told brisbaneroar.com.au after signing a two-year deal as head coach. “I got a phone call from Ange asking if I’d be willing to come back to Australia for a week-long training camp about three months before the U20 World Cup.

“A week later I was in Manly (on Sydney’s Northern Beaches) – I only got to train twice and play in a practice game because my club wouldn’t allow me to miss a game for them. But I loved the experience and even then I could see a firm belief in Ange’s eyes, you felt like he wasn’t going to waver from what he believed in.

“He was so focused on us, on what we represented. I’ve watched the way he manages since then and I’ve tried to take that level of belief forward into my own coaching.

“But you know I worked a lot under Graham Arnold too, maybe two or three years over the course of the Olympic qualifying campaign in 2007-08, and he was very big on the culture and the environment. We had something like 19 games to qualify, home and away, and we built something pretty special – I took a lot from the way Arnie managed that.

“I think I’ve been very fortunate, almost spoilt, by the managers I’ve worked under. At Sydney I had Pierre Littbarski, who won the World Cup with Germany, and his assistant Ian Crook who played in the UEFA Cup… in England people like Paul Jewell and Ian Holloway who successfully managed in the EPL.

“These are contrasting and opposite characters, but you learn from them all and apply that to your own coaching.”

Zadkovich of course is only 37, but has already served something of an old-fashioned apprenticeship – coaching the youth team at Perth Glory and in the NPL in Northern NSW once injury curtailed his playing career, before becoming first-team assistant at Glory and then succeeding Richard Garcia.

“I’ve thought a lot about what draws me into coaching,” Zadkovich says. “Getting injured at 27, having been one of the fittest players in a dressing room, it was really hard to have the game taken away from me.

“It was Kenny Lowe (Glory technical director) who suggested I try coaching the youth team, I think he saw something before I did and thought it might bring out the best in me.

“From a playing point of view I feel privileged to have the career I did but coaching has brought out a more analytical and motivational side of my character.

“That’s why I coach – the idea of helping people, helping players, pushing and inspiring them, and doing it with a sense of purpose inside a club environment. Definitely the most enjoyable part is being able to mentor and develop the younger players.

“From a footballing point of view, this time I’m very focused on doing it my way from the start – getting the ball down, trying to control games and pressing the opposition hard.

“I feel that we’ve been starting to achieve that this season but we know it will need some clever recruitment and a lot of work to produce the kind of football we want to play, the kind that will excite the fans every week.”