Tony Popovic's sons rising through the ranks at the Wanderers

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Gabriel Popovic WSW
The red and black's inaugural coach has left a very real lasting legacy at Western Sydney

Gabriel and Kristian Popovic no longer have their father's shadow to worry about at Western Sydney Wanderers as they start shining in their own right in the red and black. 

While their father Tony made the move to Turkey last season and is now in charge at Perth Glory, his two sons have stayed put and are proving there's more to their game than just a surname.

Despite being just 15, Gabriel was part of the Wanderers academy squad that recently finished fourth at the 2018 U17's Guangzhou International Championship.

Though his dad made his name as a steely centre back, Gabriel is plying his trade further up the pitch and was particularly influential in China alongside his brother.

"Both of Tony’s boys were there, Gabi and Kristian," Wanderers academy director Ian Crook told Goal

"What was great about Gabi, he’s 2003 born, so he was two years younger than most of the other boys he was playing against. 

"In the games he came on he affected them, especially against Kiev which put us into the semi-final, he scored and made one. He’s a number nine and a centre forward. 

Gabriel Popovic

"Kristian, the older one, is a central midfielder." 

While looking like real prospects for the club, the duo nearly never donned the red and black because of their father.

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As the Wanderers inaugural coach, Tony was worried about perceived bias should his boys be picked for their academy, but as technical director Crook was never in any doubt about their potential. 

"I had seen both of them play over the previous four or five years and liked them and I must admit Tony was a bit reluctant at first because he didn’t want people to feel the boys were getting opportunities because he was the coach," he said. 

"I just said to him they have talent in their own right and they’ve gone on to show that."