With Adelaide United legend, Aurelio Vidmar, returning to the Club as Director of Football, we take a closer look at his time in charge of the Reds and his other managerial positions.
After drawing a curtain on a successful playing career at the end of the National Soccer League 2003/04 season with Adelaide United, Vidmar quickly moved into coaching. Having been handed the captaincy by then Head Coach, John Kosmina, in his final season, his leadership and communicative skills were effectively put to use after accepting an assistant role.
Vidmar worked under Kosmina for the first two years of the Hyundai A-League, gaining valuable experience before being named interim boss in 2007 ahead of the team’s maiden AFC Champions League campaign. Despite Adelaide failing to get out of their group, they performed admirably – collecting eight points.
Vidmar would be given the reins on a permanent basis ahead of the 2007/08 league season. United proved difficult to beat to begin the season but struggled to find that winning formula as they drew four of the first five games and only lost one match from the opening 10 rounds. However, Adelaide’s form waned in the latter half of the campaign and missed the finals series following a sixth-place finish.
The Reds’ fortunes changed in Asia, though, as they went undefeated to top Group E of the 2008 ACL with 14 points, and thus becoming the first Australian outfit to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
Adelaide’s unprecedented cup run continued when they edged past Japanese giants Kashima Antlers 2-1 on aggregate in the quarter finals, before meeting Uzbekistan side Bunyodkor in the semis. An inspired second-half display from Vidmar’s men yielded a 3-0 home win in front of almost 17,000 fans.
After successfully negotiating the laborious journey to Tashkent in the second-leg, Adelaide reached the AFC Champions League Final. But they would ultimately be outclassed over the two fixtures and suffered a 5-0 aggregate loss.
The Reds’ exertions in the ACL had little impact on their domestic season with Vidmar managing the squad to great effect through the hectic schedule. United experienced just two defeats in the first nine matches of the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League season.
And they maintained their strong performances to finish second in the league standings, in addition to navigating the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan a month earlier.
Semi-final heartache against Melbourne Victory followed in the post-season before Fabian Barbiero’s wonder goal against Queensland Roar in the prelim booked a spot in the Grand Final against the old enemy. A gallant effort with 10 men went unrewarded as the Reds lost 1-0 in controversial fashion against Victory. Nevertheless, he was awarded the Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year for the 2008/09 season.
The 2009/10 campaign would be Vidmar’s final year in the dugout with the Reds. A frustrating season, highlighted by receiving the wooden spoon, was somewhat forgotten when Vidmar guided his side out of another difficult Champions League group as they finished above Pohang Steelers on goal difference.
Vidmar departed the Reds in June 2010 and joined the Socceroos as an assistant coach and boss of the Olyroos after the World Cup in South Africa. For his immense contribution to the Reds, the southern stand of Coopers Stadium was named after him in his honour, as well as the Club Champion award. After more than five years with the Australia set-up he was announced head coach of Thai outfit Bangkok Glass for the 2016/17 season.
Adelaide United face APIA Leichhardt in the Quarter Finals of the FFA Cup 2018 on Wednesday, 26 September at Leichhardt Oval. Kick-off is at 7.00 PM ACST.