Perth coach Ruben Zadkovich has denied punching Glory player Giordano Colli, and says that “love” exists between the pair.
Zadkovich fronted the media on Friday after it was revealed on Thursday that players union Professional Footballers Australia was investigating allegations the Glory coach had punched Colli in a five-a-side training game on Tuesday.
While 22-year-old Colli is yet to comment on the matter, Zadkovich said he did not punch the player and that it was a “non-incident”.
“I had to step into a five v five training game,” the Glory coach said in giving his version of Tuesday’s events.
“I made a forward run and collided with ‘G’ (Colli), and we both ended up on the ground.
“G’ has blocked the run and we’ve had a tangle of legs and we ended up on the ground. I’m not sure how from there it’s gotten to this type of allegation.
“It was a bit of a non-incident and obviously it’s blown up into something more serious.”
Zadkovich said there was no video footage of the incident despite claims the session was being filmed by a drone.
“We video parts of our sessions … the last part of training wasn’t filmed because it wasn’t tactical,” he said.
Zadkovich said his relationship with Colli was one that he “treasured”.
“I’ve had ‘G’ as a player now for three years. He was my captain in the youth team,” he said.
“Through Covid when he was stuck on the east coast, he was eating dinner at my house in Newcastle and driving my car.
“The love is certainly there, and we’ll continue building that relationship.”
It’s not the first time this season rumours have emerged of Zadkovich having a strained relationship with some of his players.
“I’m not sure where the rumours are starting. It’s not nice. It’s not a nice thing for a club to have to deal with or myself – they’re pretty serious allegations,” the Glory coach said.
“Someone’s certainly looking to disrupt what we’re doing and I’ll be making sure that as a club and as a team, we’re focused on our job and that’s to keep building.
“We have to try to find out where it started and that’s a difficult thing to do, and it’s a distraction.
“I’m pretty certain that’s exactly what they want us to be doing and that’s to be distracted. We don’t have too much time and effort to go on a witch-hunt of who’s starting rumours.”