Special bond drives Mariners boss Montgomery to the top
Nick Montgomery has never hidden from the fact he sees himself becoming a manager at football's top table.
And if the Central Coast boss can get the Mariners to this year's A-League Men grand final then there's a good chance that may happen sooner rather than later.
But behind every successful manager is an assistant, the offsider who can act as a shoulder to cry on or one who tells them where they are going wrong.
For Montgomery that man is his Portuguese No.2 Sergio Raimundo, who takes his guidance from Manuel Sergio, the same mentor who gives counsel to Jose Mourinho.
Raimundo and Montgomery met while doing their coaching badges in 2015 and their connection was instant.
"I knew Sergio had been at Benfica, he was an expert in player development and I knew I wanted to be a coach who developed players," Montgomery told AAP.
"When you do the group sessions you could see how advanced he was as a coach, he'd been coaching for a lot longer than most people.
"With his marine background - my dad was in the army - I could see the discipline and I think that's worked in terms of our personalities."
Raimundo speaks five languages and his coaching journey has included stints in Canada, Senegal, Brazil and Austria.
After Montgomery retired and got a job with the Mariners there was only one person he wanted to join him.
"I liked what I saw from him too - he's an honest guy and a hard worker with family values," Raimundo told AAP.
"He's got a growth mindset where he always wants to improve.
"Nick looks like a cranky bear on TV but he's got a really soft heart."
Since taking charge of the first team last year, the pair have helped guide the Mariners to an Australia Cup final and their recruitment - on a smaller budget than most clubs - has unearthed countless diamonds in the rough.
They finished in second spot this year and a double-legged semi-final against Adelaide United, which begins on Saturday, is all that stands between them and a grand final.
"It's a pretty special relationship and you need a balance when things are going well or not," Montgomery said.
"We disagree sometimes but I know that by the end of the day he is 100 per cent loyal to me and we stick together no matter what."
With a growing resume, most assistant coaches would be thinking about how they could get themselves into a top role.
But Raimundo sees the direction Montgomery is travelling and wants to go along for the ride.
"My goal is to be a world-class assistant coach," Raimundo added.
"I want to be an assistant in the Premier League and I know Nick will be a manager in the Premier League one day."