Milligan keen to help build a culture and identity at Macarthur FC

Marquee signing: Mark Milligan is excited to help form the culture of Macarthur FC in its debut year. Picture: Simon Bennett
Marquee signing: Mark Milligan is excited to help form the culture of Macarthur FC in its debut year. Picture: Simon Bennett

"I'm very excited - it's all become very real, very quickly."

Former Socceroo star Mark Milligan can't wait to make his mark at Macarthur FC.

The 34-year-old was this morning announced as the expansion club's marquee signing, and he's ready to get to work.

Milligan has returned to Australia after his time at Southend United FC in England was cut short by the Covid-19 shutdown and is looking forward to playing in the A-League again.

"I'm most looking forward to being able to help create the culture within the change room," he told the Advertiser.

"This being a new franchise and a start-up club, we've got the opportunity to create a new identity, and I've never been able to do that before at another club.

"Most clubs are already set in their ways, they already have their identity, but here I have a chance to be part of moulding an identity with the new team.

"There's a lot of young players coming through and I get to help them with that - I'm very excited."

Milligan, who has had stints at Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC in addition to a successful international career, said working with young players was one of the highlights of his job as a more experienced player.

Back in Sydney: Milligan grew up in Sydney and said he still has plenty of mates in the Macarthur area, including club ambassador Brett Emerton. Picture: Simon Bennett

Back in Sydney: Milligan grew up in Sydney and said he still has plenty of mates in the Macarthur area, including club ambassador Brett Emerton. Picture: Simon Bennett

"As you get older, you sort of fall into that mentoring role," he said.

"I've been fortunate enough to help do that with the Socceroos recently, and being part of that again is exciting.

"You get to put your stamp on the way things are done, the way you see the game, which is very nice."

Milligan said he was enticed to the Bulls by the opportunity to work with coach Ante Milicic again.

"This is Ante's first role at a club level and I've known him for a long time, I know how he works," he said.

"A big part of me deciding to come here was the way that Ante wants to play football. It suits me. I like that he's so clear about what he wants."

Milicic was equally effusive in his praise of the new signing.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have him here," the coach said.

"It's not only what Mark gives on the field, but off it that is important for us as a start-up. We want to get the right characters in the dressing room."

Milicic said Milligan's long career in the Australian and international football scene made him the perfect man to lead young players.

"Mark Milligan has been to four world cups - that doesn't just happen by luck," he said.

"For our young players in and around training every day, learning how he did that, how he goes about his profession, will be a huge advantage.

"He drives high standards, not only as a player, but as an ambassador for the Macarthur Football Club."

Milicic's also loves the defensive midfielder's way of going about his game.

"His football intelligence on the field is very impressive," he said.

"He's got a very good understanding of the game tactically, which is very important.

"He's also a vocal player on the field, which you don't have too much of these days.

"He's a leader."

Exciting times: Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic, Macarthur FC coach Ante Milicic, new signing Mark Milligan and Bulls chairman Gino Marra. Picture: Simon Bennett

Exciting times: Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic, Macarthur FC coach Ante Milicic, new signing Mark Milligan and Bulls chairman Gino Marra. Picture: Simon Bennett

Milicic said it was still "very early days" to be talking about captaincy, but said Milligan would absolutely be in contention for the armband.

"I've witnesses him captaining our country, seen his behaviours in and around the playing group and the way he's handled the responsibility," he said.

"It's too early to confirm the captaincy of the football club, but it's definitely fair to say he'll be in the discussion."

Milligan said he couldn't wait to interact with fans, once it was safe to do so.

"Hopefully fans will be back sooner rather than later, and they'll be able to come out to this beautiful little stadium at Campbelltown," he said.

"To see this place full will be a wonderful atmosphere.

"It's all about building that fanbase and getting the families involved.

"Ante touched on it today - we want to sign good players, but first and foremost good people. Once you have good people you can grow the game and move in a direction with a good work ethic, good sense of community and family.

"Then it becomes easier to bridge that gap between the football family and the fans."

The Macarthur FC Bulls will join the A-League in the upcoming 2020/21 season, based out of Campbelltown Stadium.