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Hunty’s Column: Steve Mautone Interview (Part Two)

Hunty chats to former Royal Mautone about life after Reading FC.

Lee Hodges

You can read the first part of Hunty’s interview with Steve Mautone here.

What do you do when your playing career ends?

”It didn’t affect me mentally. I set up a software design agency. I just fell into it, don’t ask me what I was doing!”

Working towards coaching badges came next before a move back home to Australia in 2006. A very successful 10 year spell with Melbourne Victory in the A-league followed. Working as a goalkeeping coach initially, Steve was responsible for helping develop some of the country’s young talent.

”Three championships and three grand finals not many others have done that. I’m very proud of my achievements.”

Why did it end?

”In Australia an away game is a three day event. Friday 8am training, then a flight to Sydney. Saturday night you play the game as it’s too hot in the day time. Sunday afternoon you fly back.”

Steve continues:

”I had a good 10 years, but some days I didn’t get to see my three kids. I wanted to be a dad not a coach.”

The tough part? He had to tell ex-Wolves hard man and current Victory head coach Kevin Muscat he was leaving!

”He has been my best mate for 30 years, going way back to before we left for Europe to pursue our careers.”

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Reading v Oldham Athletic - Elm Park Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

The future?

“I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as a goalkeeping coach. I have a UEFA A licence and been technical director for Under 8 to Under 18s in a 2nd division team here in Victoria.

“I have learnt about coach education and would go to the UK to be head coach in the right set up.”

His views on the game back in Oz?

”The A-league hasn’t gone to the next level 12 years after it started.”

The reasons?

”Soccer Is the fastest growing sport for kids, however the National Youth League in now only a state based competition.

“Bigger sponsorship dollars are needed for bigger TV rights. We need bigger squads and better quality players with more money in the salary cap to make this happen.”

So a few questions that have to be asked...

Back to his playing days, who was best player he played with?

”Slaven Bilic, so much respect for him as a person and as a player. His professionalism, his attitude to how to prepare for training, games and what to eat. He read the game well, made life easy.”

The best he played against?

“Zola was good, knocked two past me but so pleased to play against him [friendly v Chelsea at Elm Park].”

But the winner funny enough in the same match...

”Mark Hughes. I like to give it a good go when going in for a challenge, but it was like hitting a brick wall and bouncing back off it.”

Finally - what does he think about the current situation at Reading?

”Australia have had a Dutch philosophy for 10 since Guus Hiddink was in charge with a Dutch technical director.”

(They also have appointed a Dutch coach to guide them through World Cup Finals). Steve said Reading will always be very special to him and asked me what I thought of what is happening at Reading FC.

My answer is the same as many of our fans.

“We have a lot of possession but don’t create enough chances. This puts the defence under pressure, we make basic mistakes and don’t seem to have a plan B.”

Although Steve hasn’t seen us play live since early last season, he really sums up exactly where our club is at presently.

”You need to build a club ethos. To make it work (our way of playing) you need strong wingers and attackers. But you can lose the fight or urgency and get into mindset of ‘as long as we keep the ball it will happen.”

Sound familiar? I hope Steve gets the coaching role he deserves, he has so much to offer. It was great to talk about old times at Reading and 10 years of the A-league back home in Oz.

Steve is a very busy man who also runs a very successful sports apparel company currently involved in masters football - go check them out.