Across a three-decade career, Sydney FC coach Steve Corica is the link between two of the greatest football clubs in Australian history – and is on the verge of taking the Sky Blues into uncharted territory as the most successful club of all.
Heading into Wednesday’s semi-final against Perth Glory, Sydney are 90 minutes away from yet another grand final – and a chance to create history, having already won a record fourth Premiers’ Plate this year, with a fifth championship.
That would not only be the most in A-League history, an honour currently shared with long-time rivals Melbourne Victory, but also put them clear of NSL heavyweights Marconi, South Melbourne and Sydney City.
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Steve Corica is the link between two Australian football dynasties.Source:Supplied
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Corica remains the thread which ties an NSL titan to the modern-day juggernauts, having won the penalty – converted by now-Fox Sports analyst Andy Harper – which secured Marconi’s 1-0 victory in the 1993 grand final against Adelaide City, their fourth and final title.
To this day, Adelaide defender Joe Mullen remains adamant it wasn’t a penalty – where Corica was felled in a manner described as not dissimilar to how Lucas Neill brought down Italy’s Fabio Grosso to end Australia’s 2006 World Cup.
“It was very soft,” Mullen told News Corp.
“It was right on the goal line … and as I went down, Steve cut back and caught part of my body.
“Andy Harper described it in the press after the game as a rugby tackle.
“But Steve Corica, he was a very good player. Neat, tidy, technical … even if he did fall over in the box a little too easily.”
Corica on the burst for Marconi.Source:News Corp Australia
Corica has since helped turn Sydney FC into a juggernaut. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images
Told of Mullen’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge the penalty 27 years later, Corica burst out laughing.
“What did he say? Not a penalty? He had his arms wrapped around my legs!” Corica said.
“But there you go, that’s how much it means to people to make a grand final.”
Which goes some way towards explaining what it would mean to Sydney to not just reach Sunday’s decider – but also claim yet another slice of history should they go back-to-back and lift title number five.
“Obviously we need to win the semi-final first, but if we can manage to go back to back it would be amazing for the club,” Corica said.
“There’s only one other club (Sydney FC, 2017-18) that has ever done it in the A-League history. But then becoming the most successful club with grand final wins, with five, it would be quite special really.”
Steve Corica holds aloft the trophy after winning last year’s A-League Grand Final. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images
Harper describes the former attacking midfielder as a ‘sledgehammer in a velvet glove’ – whose silky on-field skills hid an underlying toughness forged over a decade in the brutal English championship.
Those qualities have carried through to his coaching, where he enjoyed success with the Sydney FC Youth team before last year winning the grand final in his first full season as head coach.
“You realise that beneath that exterior is some granite edged toughness,” Harper explains.
“Look at the playing career he’s had. The injuries he had to overcome to play in the English Championship for all those years – a really, really tough league. You don’t survive in that league by being soft.
“He played like velvet, but there’s a toughness to him that isn’t given enough credence.”
Originally published as‘Rugby tackle’ links Australian football’s greatest dynasties
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