By Leader Local Footy news

Rob Hyde always got the best out of Tim Bongetti as a player and now the former VFL man will continue what the coaching legend started at Eltham.

Life has a funny way of bringing you back to those close to you — just ask Tim Bongetti.

On September 10, Bongetti was watching his mentor Rob Hyde coach Eltham in the Division 2 Northern League grand final, Hyde’s last game as senior coach of the Panthers.

Bongetti had recently re-signed as East Keilor coach and was taking in the opportunity to watch Hyde “coach one more time”.

About a week later Bongetti was suddenly removed as the EDFL club’s senior coach and was wondering where his football journey would take him next.

Hyde reached out to Bongetti and suggested he apply for the vacant position at the Division 2 runners-up and follow in his footsteps.

Bongetti obliged.

On Friday night, the Panthers unveiled the former VFL player as their new senior coach and Hyde’s successor.

“Obviously it came from left field (the decision which saw him sacked as East Keilor coach),” he said.

“I went and watched Rob in that grand final because I knew he was hanging them up and I couldn’t afford to miss his last game. Then when everything happened at East Keilor he reached out over text and said ‘it’s obviously disappointing but I think you should really give this a go’.

“He spoke about the opportunity to build something here over the next couple of years. I went through the process, which was super professional, and that got a hold of me.

“To lead on from what Rob has started is going to be really special for me. I was captain under him at Greensborough when I came back from the VFL, he was the one bloke who knew how to get the best out of me.

“He taught me about myself, I loved him.

“Rob got the group into a really good position with some really talented players,” he said.

“There will be some minor changes as there always is with a new coach but why fix something that isn’t broken. Watching the grand final, Banyule were just too good — they came well prepared on the day.

“To go through last season losing just one game shows where this club is at. Hopefully we can continue building towards being a Division 1 club again.

“About 95 per cent of the group has re-signed and the club is in the process of recruiting some talented players. I think we’ll be in a good position.”

When Bongetti’s availability became public after his departure from East Keilor, he revealed his phone rang hot.

“I had over 20 calls from other clubs,” he said.

“Some wanted me as a player, other clubs wanted me as an assistant then there were others who wanted me to coach. I’m thankful to everyone who reached out.”

“I’ve landed on my feet.”

Ultimately, Eltham fell short in the decider going down by 25 points to Banyule in the decider.

Having already spoken to members of the senior playing group, Bongetti is excited by what the future holds at his new club.