Once a junior with Blacktown City Demons, Hayden Foxe will be looking to prove himself all over again in familiar territory this season.
The former Socceroo was named on Tuesday as the caretaker head coach for the Western Sydney Wanderers, just five days before their first match of the 2017/18 A-League season.
The news comes after the shock departure of Tony Popovic on Sunday.
Popovic, who managed the Wanderers since the club’s inception, will be joined at Turkish Super League club Karabükspor by assistant coach Andres Carrasco and goalkeeping coach Zeljko Kalac.
While their departure could scarcely have come at a worse time, Wanderers chief executive John Tsatsimas said he was confident the sole remaining assistant coach would provide “strong leadership” while the club searches for a permanent replacement.
Fans were rejoicing at the news a “Blacktown boy” would be in the top job for the time being.
“This is my fourth season with the Wanderers and I’ve learned immensely about what this club stands for,” Foxe said.
“I grew up in this area, so it’s a privilege and an honour to be established with this club and to be head of the organisation in a football sense for these next few weeks.”
Tsatsimas said Foxe had done an “outstanding job” since joining the coaching staff in 2015.
“As a Blacktown boy, Hayden embodies the culture and vision we have at the Wanderers and we have no doubt he will lead the team strongly during this period,” he said.
“We look forward to seeing him lead the group while we continue our work behind-the-scenes finding the best candidate to take our club forward.”
Wanderers technical director Ian Crook and goalkeeping coach Davide Del Giovine will also step up during the transition period.
“Today we also say farewell to Zeljko Kalac and Andrès Carrasco who have both served this club with the utmost professionalism and passion during their time here – we wish them well in their future coaching careers,” Tsatsimas said.
Speculation remains over who could take the top job, with Australian assistant coach Ante Milicic and under-23s coach Josep Gombau both touted as potential replacements.
Foxe, meanwhile, will have his work cut out for him against former club Perth Glory at Spotless Stadium on Sunday, and will likely still be in charge for the FFA Cup semi-final on October 24.
It remains to be seen whether he will join Popovic in Turkey after a replacement is secured.
The Blacktown City youngster spent two seasons with Dutch club Ajax as a junior, before his senior career took him to England, Belgium and Japan.
Foxe had his most successful spell with Portsmouth but struggled with frequent injuries, and eventually returned to Australia. He played for Perth Glory and Sydney FC before his retirement in 2011.
His coaching career began at Melbourne Heart before he joined Western Sydney in 2015.
Foxe’s brother Damien is a legend of Blacktown City, having played more than 300 senior matches for the club.