There are few coaches in world football that can claim a comeback story as convincingly as Graham Arnold.
It is almost 12 years ago that Arnold rose to the helm of the Caltex Socceroos in what was a short-lived 15-match tenure.
Now, with the chance at a second bite at the cherry, there's no doubt Arnold packs the formidable leadership and deep knowledge of Australian football to lead the Caltex Socceroos again on the world stage.
A striker by trade, Arnold scored 19 goals in 53 appearances for the Green and Gold and made his debut with the national team in 1985.
Arnold’s involvement with the national team stretches back more than 30 years. A genuine stalwart of the Australian game, few know what it means to be a Caltex Socceroo than the 54-year-old.
"It’s everything," Arnold told socceroos.com.au.
"When I first put it on in 1985 I looked in the mirror for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t believe I was wearing the shirt. That’s one of the things I’ll be pushing when I go in as coach: the pride of wearing the green and gold shirt.
"There’s nothing bigger, there’s nothing better. You’re representing 23 million people. It’s not only about representing yourself or representing your family, it’s about representing the country and we’ll do that with pride and honour.
"There are only a certain amount of people that get to represent their country. You’re in a privileged position."
Arnold was assistant coach of the national team when they went to the Round of 16 at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and once more at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The Caltex Socceroos were under his charge at their first-ever appearance at the AFC Asian Cup back in 2007, when they bowed out on penalties to Japan in the quarter-finals.
Over a decade on from his initial tenure as Head Coach of the national team, and with a swag of Hyundai A-League Premierships and Championships under his belt, Arnold has a resume which would be the envy of most Australian managers.
Three Hyundai A-League Premierships, two with Sydney FC and one with Central Coast Mariners, a Championship with each, plus an FFA Cup winners medal is testament to Arnold's dominance of the domestic game in recent years.
Not to mention the personal accolades – he’s won the Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year award on three occasions and has proved himself as one of Australia’s best managers.
It is this intense dedication to improving his craft and staying ahead of the pack in the Hyundai A-League that has vindicated any doubts lingering from his initial stint as Australia boss.
Without it consistently proving himself in Australia's top tier competition, the Caltex Socceroos boss says he wouldn't be in the privileged position he is in today.
"I look back on seven years in the A-League that has changed my life," he said.
"When I first came [into the competition] in 2010 there were a lot of question marks around whether I was a good coach, a bad coach. People have opinions.
"In seven years I’ve had top two six times and won three premierships. I reflect back on it as a very successful time. I enjoyed every moment of it. It’s helped me grow and develop as a better coach and I look forward to my next job with the Socceroos."
In many ways, Arnold's presence has already been weaved into the Caltex Socceroos' recent history.
A proven record of player development at Central Coast Mariners has supplied the Caltex Socceroos with a number of their biggest names.
The likes of Mat Ryan – a goalkeeper told he was too small by English Premier League club Tottenham - flourished under Arnold at the Gosford club, and now plays in England's top tier for Brighton and Hove Albion.
Tom Rogic has amassed a series of titles at Scottish giants Celtic and has been labelled a ‘future star of European football’ by boss Brendan Rodgers – but it was Arnold who plucked him from obscurity and propelled him onto some of the biggest stages of all.
And not to mention the Caltex Socceroos' ever-improving central defender Trent Sainsbury, a player who Arnold helped develop.
Arnold has the pedigree, the experience, and the mettle. The 54-year-old has the ability to help develop some of our brightest from the national team dugout and drive the proven talents to be their very best.
The challenge now is to bring them both together and drive our national team to new heights. His first challenge is the 2019 AFC Asian Cup – the very tournament which he led Australia at some 12 years ago.
Welcome back, Graham.
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