CLAYTON Zane is the last home-grown Socceroo to be produced in Newcastle.
Now the former Anderlecht striker is focused on producing the next wave of national team players.
Zane was appointed coach of the Newcastle Jets youth team yesterday, replacing Arthur Papas, who took up a position with Indian Federation last month.
The 34-year-old played the last of his 14 games for Australia in 2001 and a degenerative knee injury cut his career short in 2005.
He spent five years in junior development at English club Queens Park Rangers before returning to Newcastle last year to open his own academy and was coach of the Jets women’s league side.
‘‘Working with the ladies team, I was in and around the Jets youth and first team,’’ Zane said.
‘‘There is obviously a lot of talent there. It will be great to work with them, help them on their career path, and hopefully get them through to the first team.
‘‘Who knows, there could be some future Socceroos among them.
‘‘It is a big job and one I don’t take lightly. I dreamt and hoped this would eventuate but I am also aware in football there is no guarantees.
‘‘It will require a lot of hard work on my behalf.
‘‘Being a local product I have come through the system that these kids have come through. Hopefully I can add something to that.’’
The Jets youth team are in second place on the Northern NSW State League ladder.
Zane’s one-year deal does not begin officially until July 1 and initially he will rely on assistant coach James Pascoe.
‘‘James Pascoe has done a great job and I’m looking forward to working with him,’’ Zane said
‘‘I have watched the team a couple of times this season and am aware of the background of some of the players.’’
Papas was hand-picked by Jets head coach Gary van Egmond. Both had been at the Australian Institute of Sport and shared the same playing philosophy of a possession-based up-tempo game.
‘‘I had a good chat with Gary and we both agree on the style of football he is instilling here,’’ Zane said.
‘‘He wants possession-based football and I am a big believer in that.
‘‘The trends in the game suggest that is the way it needs to be played. Helping the youngsters understand that system before they get to the senior level is my job.’’
Though concentrating on the State League and national youth league campaigns, Zane’s role is spread wide.
‘‘The youth team is the tip of the iceberg,’’ he said.
‘‘With what the club wants to do, there will be a lot of work away from the youth team.
‘‘I need to know who the best young players – the 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds – are coming through.
‘‘The more local players we can get through the system into the first team the better.
‘‘It will save the club money, it is what the fans want and I am grateful they have gone with a local to try and facilitate that.’’
Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby said the fact Zane had been ‘‘in the system’’ was an advantage.
‘‘He knows the philosophy and the type of players we want to bring through the system,’’ Middleby said.
Like Papas, Zane has aspirations of becoming a career coach and is confident this role will be a stepping stone.
‘‘It is inevitable that one day I won’t be here,’’ he said.
‘‘When the time comes I want to be as well-equipped as I can.
‘‘For me, one of the biggest things I needed to know from the club was that I would have the chance to work under Gary and Craig Deans.
‘‘Like Arthur, who was groomed at the AIS, I can work closely with Gary and hopefully I come out a better coach.’’