Paul Okon

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Paul Okon
Paul Okon managing Young Socceroos.jpg
Personal information
Full name Paul Michael Okon
Date of birth (1972-04-05) 5 April 1972 (age 42)
Place of birth Sydney, Australia
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in)
Playing position Defender / Midfielder (Retired)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1991 Marconi Stallions 49 (4)
1991–1996 Club Brugge 72 (1)
1996–1999 Lazio 19 (0)
1999–2000 Fiorentina 11 (0)
2000–2002 Middlesbrough 28 (1)
2002 Watford (loan) 15 (0)
2002–2003 Leeds United 15 (0)
2003–2004 Vicenza 28 (2)
2004–2005 K.V. Oostende 33 (0)
2005–2006 APOEL 9 (0)
2006–2007 Newcastle Jets 17 (0)
Total 296 (9)
National team
1991 Australia U-20 4 (0)
1992 Australia U-23 3 (0)
1991–2003 Australia 28 (0)
Teams managed
2008–2009 APIA Leichhardt (Interim)
2009 Australia U-18
2009–2010 Gold Coast United (Assist.)
2012– Australia U-20
2012– Australia U-23 (Asst.)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:47, 25 February 2010 (UTC).

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17:30, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Paul Michael Okon (born 5 April 1972 in Sydney) is a former Australian football (soccer) player and current coach.

He previously captained the Australian National Team and has represented Australia Olympic Football Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Okon's career began at Marconi Stallions in the old NSL in Australia. He then went on to play at many European clubs including S.S. Lazio and Fiorentina in Italy's Serie A, Vicenza Calcio in Serie B, Middlesbrough F.C. and Leeds United F.C. in the English Premiership, Club Brugge, K.V. Oostende in Belgium's Jupiler League and APOEL in the Cypriot First Division. Okon was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2009, for his services to football in Australia.[1] During his time in Belgium, Okon acquired citizenship of the country.

Club career[edit]

Okon grew up in the Sydney suburb of Bossley Park. He is of German and Italian descent. He represented his high school, Patrician Brothers' College, Fairfield during his time as a teenage schoolboy and featured prominently in all teams including the A Grade squad. However, his abilities did not stop at the football pitch. He set the record for high jump at the College's annual Athletics Carnival in the under 16s age group which was not broken until 2004.

Okon left Marconi Stallions in 1991 for Club Brugge, and due to a series of excellent performances at sweeper won the Belgian Golden Shoe (95/96), the Belgian Jupiler league (95/96) and two Belgian Cups (94/95 and 95/96). These performances captured the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs, and in 1996 Dino Zoff – then coach of Italian giants Lazio – flew out to Belgium to personally sign the Australian, stipulating in his contract that Okon would play sweeper and promising first team football. However, with the departure of Roberto Di Matteo to Chelsea – forcing him to play in midfield – and a succession of knee injuries (a problem caused by a misaligned pelvis, the result of a childhood car-crash) resulted in game-time being limited. While he did return for the 1999 Scudetto decider (playing in one of the final games of the season against Juventus, which Lazio lost, handing the title to A.C. Milan) that summer he departed the Roman club.

This began a turbulent chapter of Okon's career, with spells at Fiorentina, Middlesbrough, Leeds United and Vicenza before returning to the country where he made his name with Oostende in 2004. After a brief spell with APOEL in Cyprus, Okon returned to Australia.

He signed with A-League club Newcastle United Jets for the 2006–07 season. Okon fit into a well-constructed Jets side and helped then make the play-offs in 2007. Due to injury concerns, Okon decided to retire from professional football in June 2007. Okon played for amateur team West Ryde Rovers' over-35 Division 1 team in the GHFA.[2][3]

Managerial career[edit]

On 24 June 2008, along with Alex Tobin, Alistair Edwards and Nicola Williams, Okon was a recipient of an inaugural three year scholarship under the Elite Coaching Development Program led by the FFA.[4] As part of the program, Okon spent time at Coverciano with the Italian U-23 side under Pierluigi Casiraghi in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games, and spent a stint studying the youth setup of PSV Eindhoven.[5]

On 2 September 2008 Okon was appointed assistant coach to Miron Bleiberg at Gold Coast United for their inaugural season.[6] Before taking up his new role he took up an interim coaching role at APIA Leichhardt for their 2009 NSW Premier League season.[7]

On 30 October 2008 Okon was appointed to lead the Australian U-18 side at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in the month of January, aimed as part of a long term view towards establishing the team for the 2012 Olympic Games.[8]

On 23 February 2010, Okon did not renew his contract with Gold Coast United, following the team's loss in the first round of the A-league finals. Since then he has gone away on tour with the Australian Olympic under 23 squad for a tournament in Vietnam where he was assistant coach to Aurelio Vidmar.

On 19 April 2012 it was announced he was appointed head coach of the Australia national under-20 football team and Assistant coach of the Australia Olympic football team.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 2005, Cruz gave birth to son Paul Okon jr. in Belgium. In 2009 they had another son Gianluca Okon in Sydney, Australia.

National team statistics[edit]

[10]

Australia national team
Year Apps Goals
1991 1 0
1992 0 0
1993 1 0
1994 1 0
1995 1 0
1996 1 0
1997 0 0
1998 0 0
1999 0 0
2000 11 0
2001 9 0
2002 0 0
2003 3 0
Total 28 0

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Club Brugge

Lazio

APOEL

International[edit]

Australia

Individual[edit]

References[edit]


External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Paul Trimboli
NSL U21 Player of the Year
1989/90-1990/91
Succeeded by
Kevin Muscat