Bruce Djite says it was an opportunity too good to refuse after accepting the role as Adelaide United’s new Director of Football.
Djite begins his position effective immediately with his primary role of running the football department, among other responsibilities.
The 32-year-old amassed 158 appearances and scored 41 goals across two stints with the Reds, and announced his retirement from professional football last month.
Djite said he did not think twice after receiving the offer from Adelaide United Chairman Piet van der Pol.
“It wasn’t initially my plan when I retired no doubt about that,” Djite explained to reporters at a press conference on Monday morning at his official unveiling.
“But when I got the call from the Chairman a number of weeks ago it’s an opportunity I had to jump at.
“Funnily enough I was actually speaking to Fox Sports about a role there and another sporting organisation in Sydney as well.
“But the opportunity to come back to a Club I love so much it was a very simple decision for me to make.
“… Opportunities like this don’t come up every day. There’s only eleven director of football roles in the country.
“I’m very luck and very privileged to get the opportunity and definitely one I couldn’t resist taking with both hands.”
— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) June 3, 2019
The former Socceroo discussed some of the tasks his job will entail from recruitment, to working closely with all coaches across not just the Hyundai A-League squad but also the Adelaide United Women and Youth teams.
“Obviously working closely with the new Head Coach (Gertjan Verbeek) that’ll be here later this month,” he explained.
“But also having a sharp focus on the women, the youth, the succession plan on both the football side in terms of players, personnel and the coaching side as well and also speaking to the broader staff.
“Whether it’s high performance managers or doctors. Luckily enough in my time I’ve had the experience of seeing what the vast majority of the A-League clubs are doing, and I’ve got a pretty good understanding of who does it quite well and who doesn’t do it quite well.
“So in this role I plan on getting a lot of feedback obviously in the first month or so that I’m in the role, and try and see what sort of tangible benefits I can actually bring to not just the players but the staff and the Club as a whole.”
Djite said the Club was heading in a positive direction, and further supported after speaking with van der Pol surrounding the ideas he has moving forward.
The former striker, who understands the business side of football and is close to completing a Bachelor of Business degree, said he wanted to establish a strong culture where players would opt to sign with Adelaide over other destinations.
“It’s an exciting vision,” he said.
“I think there’s a bit of change and a bit of a transition period at the Club if you like, especially when new owners come in.
“They want to implement their own ideas, their own vision, but I think it’s very clear in what Piet has explained to me.
“You guys will start to see that and the fans will start to see that – Eugene (Galeković) coming back is a massive plus for the Club.
“Obviously to get myself here I’d like to think that will benefit the Club in a myriad of ways and the appointments that we’ll make and the signings we’ll be able to make should get the fans excited.
“It’s a salary capped league, it’s a salary capped system so you’ve to try and find competitive advantages.
“You can’t just go and splash cash on seven or eight brand new players to entice them to come to your club.
“But I think with a culture that we’re going to set, the frameworks that we’re going to build out here I think we can get that competitive advantage.
“And build a culture where people love to play for the Club and people are willing to come to Adelaide United over other clubs because of the environment we operate in.”
Djite, who won three trophies during his second spell with the Reds, said recruiting the right players over the offseason would be crucial for the team’s future success.
He further praised the fact that Adelaide already have the majority of the squad under contract for the upcoming campaign, before suggesting reinforcements will arrive in due course.
“In my vision eventually, I want to see a Club where your talisman, Isaías, your Captain, best player in the team leaves and there’s someone there ready to replace him,” he continued.
“That’s a big hole that we’re going to have to fill and… I’ve got no doubts that we’ll be able to find good players to fill the gaps that we need.
“… I’m lucky that the Club has kept the core of the squad – it’s not a Brisbane Roar or Wellington Phoenix where you need to rebuild a whole team.
“That’s testament to the job the Club has done so far to keep the core of the squad and we just need to fill in a few gaps and better the squad for next season, probably five or six players at a max.”