APIA Leichhardt has parted company with Championship winning first grade coach John Calleja.
While the decision to part company was an extremely difficult one, the club felt it was important to act quickly, given the poor start to the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 2021 campaign.
Calleja joined APIA as assistant coach to Danial Cummins in 2017 and was part of the coaching staff as we won the NPL NSW Men’s Premiership that year. The team also made the Waratah Cup and NPL NSW Men’s Grand Final.
In 2018 he worked with APIA icon Billy McColl. The success kept coming winning the Waratah Cup in 2018 and also returning to the national spotlight thanks to a hugely successful FFA Cup campaign.
While we were knocked out by Adelaide United in the quarter-finals, we delivered the moment of the tournament claiming the scalp of then-national Champion Melbourne Victory at a packed Leichhardt Oval.
It was without doubt one of the finest moments in our decorated history and was soon followed by another following McColl’s decision to step down, Calleja was promoted to the top job in 2019.
Calleja helped deliver a long awaited NPL NSW Men’s Championship guiding the club to a 2-1 extra-time win in the Grand Final against Sydney United 58 in 2019.
It ended a 16-year hunt for the top prize and was a sweeter win than ever before after tasting defeat in the two previous Grand Finals.
“The club would like to thank John Calleja for his history making contribution to APIA Leichhardt,” a club spokesman said.
“John was a significant part of the most successful period in the club’s history, firstly as an assistant coach and then as a head coach, in particular the FFA Cup win against Melbourne Victory and the Grand Final win against Sydney United 58. Those are two moments everyone associated with APIA will remember forever.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make but it is one we felt was necessary at this stage.
“John will always be warmly welcome at Lambert Park.”
An announcement on a new first grade head coach will be made in due course.
APIA Leichhardt Press Release