Adelaide United Football Club Assistant Coach Michael Valkanis will be departing the Club at the end of the season.
Michael was in the inaugural Adelaide United Hyundai A-League squad and has been a key part of the club during his 13-year tenure as both player and coach.
A strong, commanding defender, Michael’s achievements firstly as a United player have ensured his champion status at the Club.
As a player, Michael was voted Best Team Man for the 2003/04 season, Player’s Player for the 2005/06 season, whilst he was part of the Club’s 2005/06 Hyundai A-League Premiership winning squad.
Michael was also a 2006 and 2007 Pre-Season Cup Champion, 2007 and 2009 Grand Finalist, and 2008 AFC Champions League Finalist, which ensured the Club’s participation in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup, with Michael helping the Reds finish 5th in the competition.
He was a leader both on and off the pitch, captaining the Reds for two seasons and then joining the coaching staff in 2010.
In 2012, Michael was made the Club’s Assistant Coach, helping the Club to qualify for the AFC Champions League in the same year, before becoming interim Head Coach in 2013 and overseeing the Reds surge into the Finals.
In 2014, Michael was part of United’s coaching staff that guided the Club to winning the inaugural 2014 Westfield FFA Cup, before finally clinching the unique Premiership and Championship double in 2016.
Michael was the inaugural Head Coach of the Club’s State League squad and oversaw the team’s promotion to the National Premier League. In addition, Michael won the National Youth League Conference A Premiership in 2015 with the Young Reds, and has been fundamental to the development of a number of young South Australian footballers that have featured for Adelaide’s first team.
“For me it’s been an amazing journey over the 13 years at Adelaide United Football Club. Being here from day one when this club was formed has been amazing and it’s been a big part of my life,” Valkanis said.
“I’m really grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to be part of United as a player, captain, coach, and I’ve had so many up moments that I’ll never forget.
“I can’t really go through and name and thank everyone because there are so many people that I’ve met over this journey but I’d like to thank all the owners, board members, all the coaches, all of my teammates and of course all the fantastic supporters, that I’ve had because they’ve been a big part of my life and the club has really been my family for a third of my life.”
He fittingly ends his time at the club with the long-awaited Hyundai A-League Championship after last night’s triumphant victory over Western Sydney Wanderers.
“It’s amazing and I thank God for the way it all worked out (lifting the trophy), it was always a dream of mine to win a Championship here, whether as a player, a coach - we had to win the league and I wanted to make sure that when I left one day I’d done that and to me for that to happen this week… I felt achieved.
“I’d worked hard as a player and as a coach and it’s finally done – it was already emotional for me in the semi-final against Melbourne City because I knew it was my last day at Coopers Stadium, where I’d played in front of packed crowds and people that really got behind us, so I took some time to stand on the side where I loved playing on…
“It’s an emotional time to say goodbye to Adelaide United, and I will now take a break with my family because they’ve seen how much I’ve sacrificed.
“I’ve given my life for the Club and I’ve always put it first. I’ve always done my best, but now it’s my time to move on.
“As a coach I’ve always said to players you need to challenge yourself. and you need to get out of your comfort zone. So I need to do the same to help me progress in my coaching career."
Adelaide United CEO Grant Mayer expressed his gratitude on behalf of all the staff and board.
“Michael has been a wonderful servant to the club and we are forever in his debt for what he has done for Adelaide United,” he said.
“It is with a heavy heart that he we say goodbye to Michael, and we wish him all the best for his future coaching career.
“He has helped build and embodies the culture and spirit of Adelaide United, and his legacy will last for many years to come.”
Thank you for everything, Michael.