Ottawa Fury FC made a pair of major announcements on Thursday ahead of the club’s fifth season. After serving as both interim GM and head coach since mid-August, Julian de Guzman has been appointed General Manager and has appointed Nikola Popovic (Knee-koh-la Pop-oh-vich) as the club’s new head coach.
“Julian’s commitment to this club and its success is tremendous and he has earned this opportunity,” said Fury FC President and OSEG Partner John Pugh. “The leadership and astuteness that we’ve seen from Julian as a player has been matched in the management role that he’s held since mid-August.”
“I took the time necessary to reflect on this next step in my career and I want to thank the ownership and management group for supporting me in my decision and supporting my appointment of Nikola as the club’s next head coach,” said de Guzman. “I am committed to this club and look forward to solely focusing on my role as general manager and building a club that we can all be proud to support.”
Popovic joins Fury FC after spending the 2017 season as the head coach of Swope Park Rangers leading them to their second straight Western Conference Championship and second consecutive run to the USL Cup Final. In 2017, Popovic and his squad produced a record of 17W-8L-7D in just their second season. Popovic served as an assistant to former Fury FC head coach Marc Dos Santos during Swope Park’s inaugural season in 2016.
“We are thrilled that Nikola will be joining Fury FC,” said de Guzman. “Nikola has the experience, the passion and the drive to allow this club to achieve its goals. We agree on how the game should be played, the type of players we want in Fury colours and product that we want to provide our fans.”
A UEFA Pro licensed coach – the highest UEFA license available – Popovic has coached in eight countries, speaks four languages (Serbian, Portuguese, English and Spanish) and has coached at the academy, club and international levels. He harvested his coaching philosophies with internships at Inter Milan (2012-13), Portugal Under-21’s (2013) and Serbia and Montenegro Under-21’s (2006).
“I’m very proud to be part of this organization,” said Popovic. “I first want to thank Julian, Mark Goudie, John Pugh and the owners for the opportunity to become the next coach of Ottawa Fury FC. I also want to assure our fans and supporters that we will do everything to make them proud.”
“We must build a very strong culture within Ottawa Fury FC. It is important that we have strong core values and a commitment to an attractive way of playing the game,” added Popovic. “Everything that I’ve seen in Ottawa and everything we have in place going forward gives me great confidence in the future of this club.”
Born in Belgrade, Popovic is a dual citizen of Serbia and Portugal – where he began his career with CD Olivais e Moscavide. His time in Portugal also included serving as an assistant with Varzim SC and head coach with Sertanense FC and Benefica B. Popovic enjoyed a stint as an assistant coach with the Cape Verde National Team (2010) and also spend a season as an assistant to Baltemar Brito – Jose Mourinho’s former assistant coach – helping them win the Vice President Cup.
Ottawa Fury FC will return to the pitch on January 29 when training camp opens the fifth season for the club.