Mentor behind Vukovic's penalty heroics in A-League grand final
IT was the dossier that proved to be Sydney FC's trump card in the grand final, and allowed Danny Vukovic to become a hero.
The Sky Blues goalkeeper revealed that his goalkeeping coach, John Crawley, had analysed the penalty habits of the Victory players and was signalling to him during the shootout. When Vukovic leapt to his right to stop Marcos Rojas's spotkick, it opened up the chance for Milos Ninkovic to score the deciding penalty.
"With the penalties, my goalkeeping coach John Crawley has studied all the takers so he knew where they all went with their last penalties," Vukovic said. "That's usually a good indicator of where they're going to go again. There were a couple he didn't know, Leigh Broxham and Carl Valeri, but the others he pointed them out and he was right.
"I knew after saving (from Rojas) that we were one kick away and I was just praying that Ninko would hit the back of the net. To be honest, his last penalty was against Wollongong in the FFA Cup and he missed, so I was a little bit on edge - but with the season he's had I was pretty sure he'd score.
"The emotions are running high - it still hasn't sunk in. The whole game is a blur and I can't wait to get home and watch it back. It's an amazing feeling."
The win marked a first win in four grand final appearances for Vukovic, and set the seal on a remarkable year since joining Sydney.
"I don't know how I'd have handled a fourth grand final loss," he said. "We rode our luck, they hit the post twice, but it just felt like it was meant to be. After breaking so many records it would have been a travesty if we hadn't gone on to win it as people would have probably not recognised what we've done this season. To win is huge and caps off a massive season for this club.
"It's the biggest season for me. My son has come through a difficult period and is on the road to recovery. That for me has been the main focus over the last 12 months, and the football has been brilliant too."