EXCLUSIVE: He may’ve joked about being west Sydney’s first marquee signing, but former Socceroo great Charlie Yankos’s glint hides a fierce passion for making the A-League work out west.
"You've been waiting for my comeback have you?" Yankos joked to au.fourfourtwo.com after an impressive first outing at Tuesday's press conference to announce the winning franchise for Sydney's prized second A-League licence.
Moments earlier, a relaxed Yankos was keen to stress his football credentials to the new foundation board of Sydney's newest A-League club. "Yeah, that's me," Yankos joked when the question of a marquee signing was raised by a packed press contingent.
Headed by the dapper Ian Rowden, the new club scored an early goal with an assured performance. Alongside the Saatchi & Saatchi boss were Yankos, former Young Socceroo, NSL player and now legal eagle Peter Tredinnick as well as former Olympics marketing executive and football tragic John Moore.
With Rowden, Yankos and Tredinnick all steeped in green and gold tradition (Rowden was the first ever Young Socceroo skipper) there was an overwhelmingly upbeat feel to the announcement - although very little specific detail was revealed. Yet. That will come.
But what we do know is Yankos brings a genuine football edge to a board that also knows its football. That's got to be a good thing, especially when dealing with players.
The chunky defender wore the green and gold 86 times in a career spanning seven years in the national team - although for most fans, he's still remembered for "that" goal against Argentina in 1988
And Heidelberg fans will remember him for his sterling seven seasons with the black and gold in late 70s and early 80s Melbourne - particularly during their epic battles with cross-town rivals South Melbourne in the old NSL.
"I've been there, I've done that, I've played overseas. I know the pitfalls and difficulties of that and of playing for Australia. So I do understand what they're going through," Yankos, 48, said.
Yankos said the World Masters tournament was, in a roundabout way, the reason why he got involved in the bid. He enjoyed the banter and bonhomie of being around former Socceroos and the game itself.
With children older and less of a drain on his time, the former defensive rock had an inkling that the timing was just right. And with Rowden chairing the new bid following the messy demise of the "colourful" Joe Meissner-backed version, Yankos was approached.
"I've got a lot more time and it's about time I believe to get back involved in the game," he said. "And I've got a lot of respect for Ian as a businessman and what he's done in sport and with Peter and John.
"At the end of the day, it's about the importance of having people there that you believe in."
And in a good sign, Yankos stayed right on message. There was little specific detail revealed simply because these are early days with the foursome only together officially for a month.
"For me to pre-empt things is probably not prudent," said Yankos, whose corporate career includes working for Frank Lowy's shopping centre empire Westfield. "We've got a lot of work to do from the bottom up, which the guys said is an important thing.
"But we certainly know there's a huge base over in western Sydney and it's about us working as a proper business model rather than an ad hoc approach."
Yankos chose his words carefully but did kick off the build up to the Sydney A-League derby which, at this stage, will probably kick off season seven of the A-League in August 2011.
He added: "I remember playing a lot with Hellas and Heidelberg in those days, there was a lot of rivalry. Local derbies are important to any competition and we're hoping it's going to be real massive."
The stunning view from the 22nd floor of the FFA may have been of the Eastern Suburbs and Sydney FC territory, but the vision and rhetoric was all about the west of the city.
Sydney FC have been put on notice - the new kid on the A-League block will be a formidable opponent if this first appearance is anything to go by.