David Zdrilic

Last updated

David Zdrilic
David Zdrillic (6177529434; cropped).jpg
Zdrilic in 2011
Personal information
Full name David Allen Zdrilic
Date of birth (1974-04-13) 13 April 1974 (age 48)
Place of birth Sydney, Australia
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in) [1]
Position(s) Forward
Club information
Current team
Genoa (assistant)
Youth career
King Tomislav Sydney
Patrician Brothers' College
Sutherland Sharks
St George Saints
Senior career*
1993 St George Saints 20 (8)
1993–1997 Sydney United 114 (39)
1997–1998 FC Aarau 25 (2)
1998–2000 SSV Ulm 55 (18)
2000–2002 SpVgg Unterhaching 23 (1)
2002–2003 Walsall 24 (5)
2003–2004 Aberdeen 31 (8)
2004 Eintracht Trier 11 (0)
2005–2008 Sydney FC 59 (5)
2009–2010 Sydney United 33 (9)
International career
1997–2005 Australia [2] 30 (20)
2013 Australia (beach soccer) 11 (21)
Managerial career
2009–2010 Maccabi Hakoah
2010–2011 Sydney United
2015–2016 Sydney FC 1st Grade (assistant)
2016–2017 Sydney FC U20
2017–2018 RB Leipzig U17 (assistant)
2018–2020 RB Leipzig U19 (assistant)
2020–2021 Chicago Fire (assistant)
2021 K.V. Oostende (assistant)
2022– Genoa (assistant)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

David Allen Zdrilic (Croatian : Zdrilić; born 13 April 1974) is an Australian soccer coach and former player, who is currently the assistant coach of Serie A club Genoa. Zdrilic is also a football presenter on the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Most recently he was a key figure in SBS's coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.


Zdrilic played on 30 occasions for the Australia national soccer team, having once scored eight goals in a single match – the second highest recorded for any Australian player, behind Socceroos teammate Archie Thompson, who scored 13 goals in the same game. He was also a member of the Australia national beach soccer team, the Beach Socceroos, having captained the side. He previously played for Sydney FC in the A-League after forging a professional career in Switzerland, Germany, England and Scotland.

As a football presenter on the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Zdrilic hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil which won a Logie Award for Most Outstanding Sport Coverage as well as SBS's Friday Night A-League coverage. He has hosted games from the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, various international cup competitions and the football entertainment show Thursday FC on SBS2.

Over the last few years, Zdrilic served in a variety of coaching roles in Germany, Belgium and Italy and the MLS. In early 2022 he became assistant at Serie A club Genoa - the first Australian to coach in Serie A - after turning down the offer of coaching Australia at the 2024 Olympic Games. [3]

Playing career

Early years

Zdrilic represented his high school [Saint Patricks Christian Brothers College, Sutherland, NSW] during his time as a teenage schoolboy and featured prominently in all teams including the A Grade squad. He had the opportunity as a child to pursue a tennis career, receiving coaching and playing in tournaments, but chose football instead. [4] After playing through the youth ranks for St George Saints he broke into the senior side in 1993 at the age of 19. Mid-way through the NSW Super League year he signed to Sydney United for the coming National Soccer League season. He made an immediate impact shortly after joining the club, scoring four goals in four games in a preseason cup competition. [5] However, he played most of his first NSL season playing as fullback, netting only once for the year. Zdrilic's versatility meant he was often used in different positions and during the 1994/95 and 1995/96 seasons, he was more often among the goal scorers. It was in the 1996/97 season that for the first time Zdrilic was used as an out and out striker and eventually took out the Golden Boot scoring 21 goals in 26 games. During this time he combined studied a law degree at Sydney University, working full-time at a Western Sydney Law Firm with his footballing duties. [6] It was not until this 1996/97 NSL season that his footballing career rose to the next level.

Zdrilic's first call-up to the national team came in January 1997. After the appointment of Terry Venables as the new Socceroos coach, Australia hosted the Optus Cup a four-team tournament including an Australian squad of domestic-based players. [7] In forming the squad, Venables had asked "who's the leading scorer in the NSL?", the answer being Zdrilic (having scored 12 goals in as many games), and he played all three matches. [8] He continued his scoring ways in the NSL to win the Golden Boot for that season with 21 goals, United topping the table before losing the grand final to Brisbane.

In Europe

His position atop the Australian league attracted attention in Europe, particularly in Switzerland with an offer to join Grasshoppers accepted, where he would initially be loaned out to FC Aarau. After a season at Aarau he moved to German side SSV Ulm 1846, newly promoted to the second division. Ulm's strong 1998–99 season with Zdrilic a regular starter and scoring 12 goals for the season saw them promoted again into the Bundesliga, the club's first appearance in the top flight. [9]

Now playing in a top European league, he earned a recall to national side in early 2000 for a tournament in Chile. [10] Zdrilic was injured as a result of a bad tackle in the final minutes of Australia's game against Bulgaria and he returned to Ulm injured. He again rejoined the side in June as Australia hosted a three match series against Paraguay, which he scored his first international goal in a 2–1 win. Zdrilic remained with the side for the 2000 OFC Nations Cup, adding to his goal tally twice against Cook Islands.

Returning to club duties, with Zdrilic out injured for much of the season due to the knee injury he sustained on international duty, Ulm had been relegated back to the second division and Zdrilic sought to remain in the top league. Despite the injury Zdrilic scored 6 goals in 13 Bundesliga starts for Ulm and moved to SpVgg Unterhaching. The club struggled for consistency through the 2000–01 season and was eventually relegated, Zdrilic remaining with the club on its return to 2. Bundesliga. Haching continued to struggle for results in the 2001–02 season, relegated again at the end of the year. In contrast to club fortunes, Zdrilic was achieving greater success at international level throughout this time. Becoming a regular inclusion in an Australian side under Frank Farina, he was recalled for a friendly against Scotland to replace the injured Mark Viduka scoring in a memorable 2–0 victory at Hamden Park. He retained his place in the squad for the Oceania World Cup qualifiers. In Australia's second match of the tournament, he scored eight goals in a world record 31–0 win over American Samoa. He and his strike partner Archie Thompson, who scored 13 goals, broke the record for most goals scored in a senior international match. He remained in the team for the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, taking part in the Socceroos memorable victories over Mexico and Brazil.

With Unterhaching in financial trouble, Zdrilic gained a release and signed on to English First Division side Walsall, [11] where he was soon joined by fellow Australian Steve Corica. In a season restricted by a calf injury, [12] he made 29 appearances in the league and cup scoring five goals including the only goal against Wimbledon F.C. in the FA Cup fourth round. [13] In May 2003 he parted from the club [14] and after interest from other English sides and Norwegian side S.K. Brann, he signed to Scottish Premier League club Aberdeen on a one-year deal, making an immediate impact with a goal 80 seconds into his debut in a pre-season friendly against Liverpool and then again against Rangers in the league. [15] Zdrilic went on to score 8 goals in all competitions including the winner in a memorable win over Celtic which ended Celtics unbeaten home run of 78 games. After being linked with Belgian clubs Lierse and Gent, and also 1860 Munich, he returned to 2nd Bundesliga at Eintracht Trier.

While facing difficulties at Aberdeen, his elevation back to the top flight of a European league returned him to national team contention. He was selected for a number of friendly matches and rejoined the squad in May for the 2004 OFC Nations Cup, which also doubled as qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. After a goal against Tahiti, he made two more appearances against Fiji and Vanuatu.

Return to Australia

Zdrilic in 2011 Harmony Day Pollies vs Professionals soccer match 28th February 2011 (5485103834) (cropped).jpg
Zdrilic in 2011

His stay at Trier was short-lived, and returned to Australia with the launch of the A-League in 2005 to be part of the inaugural Sydney FC squad, signing a three-year deal. [16] [17] Now back in Australia, he was included in a Socceroos side for a match on 29 March 2005 against Indonesia to benefit victims of the Boxing Day tsunami, scoring Australia's third goal in what many have tipped as his last international match. He took part in 19 of Sydney's matches in their first season, mostly as a substitute, scoring once. In the second season he found more game time under Terry Butcher, scoring four goals from 20 appearances.

Zdrilic remained at Sydney for the A-League 2007–08 season, in the final year of his original three-year contract. A number of matches saw him being deployed in the backline and midfield. [18] Many Sydney FC fans became critical of his performances, after netting just five goals in his first two years at the club. [19] Despite his clear intentions to add to his tally in the 2007–08 season, Zdrilic failed to score in any competitive matches all year and was released by Sydney at the end of the season. [20] The end of his stay with Sydney FC effectively marked the end of his career.

In 2009, Zdrilic was approached by former teammate Ante Milicic to sign with his first professional club Sydney United, who play in the NSW Premier League. The team finished on the top of the table in the regular season but bowed out in semi-final. Zdrilic finished the season with eight goals and announced his decision to retire after 15 years as a professional footballer.

Post-playing career


While playing at Sydney United, Zdrilic took up his first coaching role coaching with former NSL champions, Hakoah Sydney City East FC. In his maiden season as manager, Zdrilic guided the side to a semi-final berth but declined the club's offer to extend his contract for a second season.

The departure of Ante Milicic to A-League expansion club Melbourne Heart opened the opportunity for Zdrilic to become the player/manager at Sydney United. He spent one season in charge of the club before announcing his retirement as a player.

Despite enjoying more success as manager – taking United deep into the finals series in his first season at Edensor Park – Zdrilic left the club to concentrate on his growing media career. He was succeeded at the club by Jean-Paul de Marigny, returning for his second stint in charge.

Whilst away from the dugout, Zdrilic undertook a succession of coaching study tours in Europe, spending time at clubs such Bayern Munich, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb.

In 2015, Zdrilic returned to the coaching ranks after being approached by Sydney FC to become the assistant coach of both the NSW NPL2 first team, NYL team and the under-20 side. Both sides won their respective leagues in August 2016, meaning the club will participate in the New South Wales NPL1 in 2017 for the first time. The following season saw Zdrilic take over the NPL1 U20 side as head coach whilst still remaining assistant coach to Robbie Stanton's NPL1 first team.

In July 2017, he accepted an offer from reigning Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig to become the assistant coach of the club's under-17 team, currently led by former VfB Stuttgart and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim striker Alexander Blessin. After a successful year with the U17's, the pair moved up to the U19's which is the club's reserve team feeding directly into the club's 1st team Bundesliga side.

"I spent a month at RB Leipzig last year on a study tour watching how they did things as well as learning from Ralf Rangnick and the other coaches," Zdrilic said. "I highlighted that I would like the opportunity to one day move over to Europe to coach. They were aware of my role with Sydney FC and my previous coaching and playing experience which played a big part in Leipzig offering me the position." [21]

In January 2020, Zdrilic accepted an offer from Chicago Fire FC to become the assistant coach, where was credited with reforming the team’s approach into a more pressing-oriented style.

Zdrilic was linked with a move to then-English Premier League club Sheffield United but ultimately stayed with Chicago. [22]

In mid-2021, Zdrilic returned to Europe after accepting an offer to reunite with Alexander Blessin - who he coached under at RB Leipzig - to become the assistant coach at Belgian side K.V. Oostende.

After impressing with their high-tempo style in Belgium, Blessin and Zdrilic were then poached by Italian Serie A club Genoa in January 2022, replacing the outgoing Andriy Shevchenko. The move made Zdrilic the first Australian to hold a coaching position at a Serie A side. [23]


Zdrilic in 2018 Zdrilic SBS WC Russia.jpg
Zdrilic in 2018

After being released from Sydney FC, Zdrilic started working as a football pundit for both Fox Sports and ESPN, as well as featuring on SBS and writing a column for mX. He also took on a role as Player Relations Officer for Professional Footballers Australia.

Zdrilic continued to work in the media and co-hosted the now-discontinued World Football News on One, and was a core part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup coverage on SBS, appearing regularly as an analyst. He then joined SBS exclusively, which sees him continuing his analytical role, as well as co-hosting the football entertainment show Thursday FC .

Zdrilic soon moved into the hosting role full-time and began presenting the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and International Cup Competitions. He then hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil which won a Logie for Most Outstanding Sports Coverage. He was also the host of SBS's 4-year coverage of the A-League between 2014 and 2017.

In 2018, Zdrilic was again a key figure in SBS's coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where he presented live from matches around the country as well as expert analysis alongside Craig Foster and Lucy Zelic from SBS's Moscow studio.

Beach Soccer

Since retiring, Zdrilic is a keen advocate for Beach Soccer and is a member of the Beach Socceroos. He has also captained the side. The Beach Socceroos travelled to Qatar in January 2013 for the Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifiers. Despite having no lead up practice matches and never before played together as a team, the Beach Socceroos narrowly missed out on a World Cup place finishing 4th out of 16 teams, only three World Cup spots were on offer. Zdrilic finished the tournament with 4 goals in 4 games. Zdrilic is an Ambassador for one of the country's biggest International Tournaments, the Australia Beach Soccer Cup, played annually in Wollongong. In the last tournament, Zdrilic scored 8 goals in 3 games including 6 goals in a 7–5 win over China. Australia won the tournament.

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition [24]
ClubSeasonLeague [lower-alpha 1] CupContinental [lower-alpha 2] Other [lower-alpha 3] Total
Sydney FC 2005–06 A-League 19159603010
2006–07 A-League2046050314
2007–08 A-League12050170
  1. A-League statistics include final series matches
  2. All appearance(s) in O-League or AFC Champions League
  3. Includes the OFC Club Championship Qualifying Tournament, A-League Pre-Season Challenge Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup

International goals

Scores and results list Australia's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Zdrilic goal.
List of international goals scored by David Zdrilic
115 June 2000 Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne, AustraliaFlag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay 2–02–1Friendly
219 June 2000 Stade Pater, Papeete, Tahiti Flag of the Cook Islands.svg  Cook Islands 5–017–0 2000 OFC Nations Cup
415 November 2000 Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 2–02–0Friendly
59 April 2001 BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, AustraliaFlag of Tonga.svg  Tonga 17–022–0 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
711 April 2001BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, AustraliaFlag of American Samoa.svg  American Samoa 3–031–02002 FIFA World Cup qualification
1516 April 2001BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, AustraliaFlag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 2–011–02002 FIFA World Cup qualification
1724 June 2001 Stadium Australia, SydneyFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 1–04–12002 FIFA World Cup qualification
1931 May 2004 Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, AustraliaFlag of French Polynesia.svg  Tahiti 8–09–0 2004 OFC Nations Cup
2029 March 2005 Subiaco Oval, Perth, AustraliaFlag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 3–03–0Friendly



Sydney FC


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sydney United 58 FC</span> Football club

Sydney United 58 Football Club is a semi-professional soccer club and current NSW NPL Champions based in Edensor Park, Sydney, New South Wales Australia. The club was formed as Sydney Croatia in 1958, by Croatian Australians in the area, but it was renamed in 1993 as Sydney United after having the name Sydney CSC for a season.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Bresciano</span> Australian association football player

Mark Bresciano is an Australian former professional soccer player who played as a midfielder.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steve Corica</span> Australian association football player and manager

Stephen Christopher Corica is an Australian association football manager and former player. He is the current manager of Australian club Sydney FC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mile Sterjovski</span> Australian soccer player

Mile Sterjovski is an Australian former football (soccer) player. Sterjovski played mainly as a right winger or as a second striker, but also played as a left winger and central midfielder.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clint Bolton</span> Australian former goalkeeper

Clint Brian Bolton is an Australian former goalkeeper. He was one of the most experienced goalkeepers in the history of the National Soccer League, which preceded the A-League. He played over 300 games for Brisbane Strikers, Sydney Olympic FC and Parramatta Power, and won two A-League championships with Sydney FC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Milligan</span> Australian association football player

Mark Daniel Milligan is an Australian former professional footballer. Starting his career as a defender, Milligan has spent much of his later career playing as a midfielder. He is currently a football expert commentary and analysis at 10 Sport. He is currently an assistant coach for A-League Men club Adelaide United.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ufuk Talay</span> Australian soccer player and coach

Ufuk Talay is an Australian football coach and former player. Talay was suited to play in central midfield and was known for his good distribution and on-field vision. He is the current manager of Wellington Phoenix.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Carney</span> Australian association football player

David Raymond Carney is an Australian former association football midfielder and who is incoming coach for 2023 season NPL NSW side Wollongong Wolves FC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marko Rudan</span> Australian soccer player and manager

Marko Ante "Mark" Rudan is an Australian soccer manager and former player. He is currently the head coach for A-League Men club Western Sydney Wanderers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matthew Bingley</span> Australian former soccer player

Matthew Bingley is an Australian former soccer player. A utility who can play in midfield or defence, he has played over 300 matches in nearly 20 years at the highest level of domestic football in Australia. Bingley also made 14 appearances for the Australian national team, scoring five goals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Simon Colosimo</span> Australian footballer

Simon Colosimo is an Australian former soccer player who played as a centre back and defensive midfielder.

Ross Aloisi is a former Australian soccer player who was the captain of Adelaide United in the Hyundai A-League – a team he guided to a minor premiership, a pre-season cup and two Asian Champions League campaigns. After leaving Adelaide United in controversial circumstances, he played for Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, where he was appointed their inaugural captain. Now, after his retirement as a football player,, he is now one of the current assistant coaches of J1 League club Yokohama F. Marinos.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alex Wilkinson</span> Australian association football player

Alexander William Wilkinson is an Australian international football (soccer) player who plays as a central defender and is the captain for Sydney FC in the A-League.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Beauchamp</span> Australian association football player

Michael Francis Beauchamp is an Australian former professional footballer who played as a central defender. He was a member of the Australian 2006 World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup squads.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ante Milicic</span> Australian soccer player and manager

Ante Milicic ( AN-tay MIL-ə-chitch; Croatian: Ante Miličić[ǎːnte mîlitʃitɕ]; is an Australian soccer manager and former professional player.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Thwaite</span> Professional Australian Football Player

Michael Errol Thwaite is a former Australian football (soccer) player who last played for Gold Coast United.

Paul Wade is an Australian retired soccer player, who is best known for his long-term role as captain of the Socceroos, Australia's national soccer team.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frank Farina</span> Australian soccer player and coach

Frank Farina OAM is an Australian football (soccer) coach and former player who played as a forward.

Kris Trajanovski is an Australian association football player and coach.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lou Sticca</span>

Lucio "Lou" Sticca is an Australian football agent and businessman. He also holds Italian citizenship.


  1. "FIFA Club World Championship Japan 2005 – Official Rosters". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 4 December 2005. Archived from the original on 19 December 2005.
  2. "The Australian National Men's Football Team: Caps and Captains" (PDF). Footballaustralia.com.au. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  3. "Olyroos drama as Zdrilic turns down coaching role". The Roar. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  4. "60 seconds in sport with Aberdeen striker David Zdrilic". The Times. London. 28 September 2003. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  5. "1993/4 Multiquip Preseason Tournament". Ozfootball.net. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  6. Lewis, D (14 December 2006). "Cap scandal rocking Sydney". Fox Sports News. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  7. "Socceroo 1997 Matches". Ozfootball.net. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  8. Ormond, A (4 April 2007). "The Case For Zdrilic". FourFourTwo Australia. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  9. "The Abseits Guide to German Soccer – SSV ULM 1846". Abseits-soccer.com. Retrieved 6 August 2007.
  10. "Socceroo 2000 Matches". Ozfootball.net. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  11. "Walsall sign Zdrillic". BBC Sport. 24 June 2002. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  12. "Zdrilic our for up to six weeks". BBC Sport. 2 October 2002. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  13. "Zdrilic sends Walsall through". BBC Sport. 11 February 2003. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  14. "Zdrilic exits Walsall". BBC Sport. 14 May 2003. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  15. "Zdrilic clinches Dons move". BBC Sport. 6 August 2003. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  16. "Zdrilic signs for Sydney". ABC News. 13 December 2004. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  17. "Zdrilic to hunt for silver with Sydney FC". Halloran, J.; SMH. 14 December 2004. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  18. "Zdrilic Set For Move To The Rear". FourFourTwo Australia. 14 August 2007. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  19. Ormond,A (15 August 2007). "Zdrilic hits back at critics". FourFourTwo Australia. Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  20. Cockerill, M (30 January 2008). "FC's game plan intact as Middleby, Fyfe set to play". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  21. "Former Socceroo Zdrilic to coach at German club RB Leipzig". Theworldgame.sbs.com.au.
  22. "Former Socceroo Zdrilic linked with Sheffield United assistant role". Sbs.com.au. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  23. "Alexander Blessin verlaat KV Oostende voor Genoa, dat afkoopsom van 2 miljoen euro betaalt: "Op 24 uur tijd was alles geregeld"". Hln.be. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  24. "David Zdrilic Appearance Details". ALeagueStats.com. Retrieved 19 December 2018.