John Aloisi has completed a remarkable redemption arc from the coaching wilderness to A-League Men championship winner and believes he and fledgling club Western United are just getting started.
The club have received plenty of criticism for their small supporter base, lack of a consistent home ground and the dragged-out process of building their own stadium and training base.
United fans made plenty of noise in AAMI Park's north end as Aloisi led the expansion club to a breakthrough championship in just their third season on Saturday night.
It was an achievement he believes could drive them forward.
"It definitely helps. It definitely helps attract players, it definitely helps attract fans," Aloisi said.
"We know that we're on this journey and we're going to have a training facility, we're going to have a stadium.
"But what I loved about the players that we signed this year, it wasn't because they didn't have anywhere else to go - it was because they wanted to create history.
"I'm sure now it might be even easier because people will see that we mean business.
"We're not here to make numbers up. We're here to win. And that's the mentality we had all season."
Aloisi joined on a two-season contract in 2021 and said he'd "love" to extend his tenure.
"I don't know (if there's an extension coming), you'd have to ask Jason (Sourasis), our chairman that," he said.
"Of course (I'd like to sign an extension). It depends, if everything's alright, I'd love to. Show me the money."
United gambled on Aloisi, 46, who hadn't coached since departing Brisbane Roar in 2018.
In the wake of open-heart surgery in 2019, Aloisi reaffirmed his determination to return to the top level.
"I was sitting in my hospital bed nearly three years ago and it was more, 'I want to coach. I need to coach because I know I've got a lot more left in me and a lot more to achieve and I believe that'," he said.
"I was just waiting for the right opportunity and someone to give me the that opportunity to coach.
"It's satisfying on a personal basis, but it's more satisfying because I see all the hard work that goes into a new club.
"It's not easy, but this helps success on the pitch helps, it helps you grow quicker. You saw how many fans we had there tonight. That's great.
"Sometimes we're playing in Ballarat in front of, I don't know, 500 people so to win this will help us grow as a football club."
Australian Associated Press
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