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Tony Popovic back with Crystal Palace as coach

Tony Popovic
Popovic played 123 times for Crystal Palace between 2001 and 2006

Former Crystal Palace defender Tony Popovic has returned to the club as their new first team coach.

The 37-year-old Australian, who played for Palace between 2001 and 2006, has been assistant coach with Sydney FC.

But Palace manager Dougie Freedman has opted to bring him back to Selhurst Park with an appointment made "not with my heart but with my head".

"I played with him, he knows the club, and he brings a certain passion to it," Freedman told BBC London 94.9.

"The Palace fans know I won't do anything to put the club in any kind of jeopardy at all.

"I would do it for all the right reasons. He is a very good coach. He wants to play in the right way."

One minute he was on a beach in Sydney. The next minute I am trying to persuade him to come to south London

Dougie Freedman on new Palace coach Tony Popovic

After retiring as a player at Palace, Popovic moved back to Australia to join the coaching staff at Sydney.

And he admitted that it had taken some persuasive talking from his old Palace team-mate to lure him back to England.

"One minute he was on a beach in Sydney," said Freedman. "The next minute I am trying to persuade him to come to south London.

"It's not an easy task. But we tried to sell him the direction we are trying to go in and what we can possibly do with the club."

Popovic returns to rejoin a Palace side in 21st in the Championship, now four points clear of danger after a four-game unbeaten run capped by Saturday's 1-0 win over relegation rivals Middlesbrough.

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see also
Crystal Palace 1-0 Middlesbrough
07 Feb 11 |  Championship
Freedman optimistic about future
15 Jan 11 |  Crystal Palace
Popovic leaves Palace for Qatar
19 Jul 06 |  Crystal Palace

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