FOOTBALL: John van't Schip's right-hand man has revealed the departing coach's parting words to the Melbourne City squad, while paying tribute to his contribution.
Mike Valkanis, who will take charge as interim coach tonight at home to Western Sydney as City conducts a worldwide search for a permanent replacement, revealed that the Dutchman urged the players to remain focused on their A-League title tilt.
Van't Schip officially resigned on Monday and delivered a final address to the players on Tuesday morning ahead of his return to Holland to be by his terminally ill father's side.
"It's been a big week, we were shocked by JVS's news that he was going back to his family for his dad's illness. We weren't expecting it,” Valkanis said.
"He's been a huge part of Melbourne City and Heart when they first started, he's been here since day one. He's a special person, JVS: a gentleman, a real football person and for me personally one I thoroughly enjoyed working with.
"He brought the first silverware to the club as well, so he'll never be forgotten here and we've got a lot of respect for him.
"Everyone was shocked, he's a special kind of guy and we loved him a lot around here.
"He had a word to the team in terms of quickly focusing on the next game and giving support to the coaching staff and focusing on the task at hand and continuing on what we've set out to achieve.”
Valkanis revealed he had formed a close bond with van't Schip despite only joining from Adelaide United in pre-season.
"JVS gave me a call and spoke to me personally (about his departure) and then we met up the next day,” he said.
"We got emotional about it. It's amazing in a short time how much we bonded and how close we really got.
"So when he told me I was in complete shock because I didn't see year ending without him being next to me and working together.
"He's got full faith in me and he believes that I can do the best to take the team moving forward.”
City will welcome back defensive duo Michael Jakobsen and Osama Malik to an extended squad after injury.
Jakobsen returns after a calf injury, while Malik has recovered from a quad problem.
Fellow defenders Josh Rose and Manny Mucat are also up for selection, with midfielder Denis Genreau and defender Connor Chapman missing out.
Argentine firebrand Fernando Brandan has one game to serve on his suspension following his sending off against Perth.
with the HERALD SUN
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