Departing Western Sydney Wanderers defender Matthew Spiranovic has credited coach Tony Popovic with helping him reach his peak and become a Socceroos mainstay, as he leaves Australia for the Chinese Super League.
Spiranovic has signed for CSL side Hangzhou Greentown on a reported four-year seven-figure deal, after two A-League seasons and 44 appearances with the Wanderers.
The 27-year-old centre back's move, secured on Thursday just before the end of the Chinese transfer window, means he will be based about an hour away from Shanghai where Socceroos teammate Tim Cahill is plying his trade with Shanghai Shenhua.
His coach will be French veteran Philippe Troussier, who missed out on taking the reins at the Socceroos in 2008 when Pim Verbeek got the job.
Spiranovic joined the Wanderers before the start of the 2013-14 season after leaving Qatari side Al-Arabi and having also gained experience in Germany and Japan.
He quickly established himself as one of the best defenders in the A-League, and last season also showed he has the versatility to slot into the midfield when needed.
Along with being part of the Wanderers team that won the AFC Champions League, his rise also culminated in him earning consistent selection in coach Angle Postecoglou's Socceroos squad including January's Asian Cup-winning starting XI.
Spiranovic cited Popovic's guidance as one of the main reasons he's come so far.
"Popa's drive and attention to detail is unlike anything that I had experienced before from a coach," he said.
"Our success came from his ability to make us focus every day and learn something new every day and not look any further than the next session and next match.
"He helped me reach my peak as a player so for that to happen after I had spent many years overseas prior to my Wanderers experience, I can't thank him enough.
"I feel privileged to have played under him."
His departure leaves Popovic with a gaping hole in his back four this season and comes as a major blow to the Wanderers' hopes of a revival following a disappointing 2014-15 when they only narrowly avoided the wooden spoon.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Brendan Hamill is likely to become the coach's first-choice centre-back pairing.