Michael Mandalis

Michael Mandalis was born in 1945, of Greek Ancestry, in Cairo, Egypt. Raised in Central Cairo, a young Michael started playing street football with a ball made from socks.

Mandalis arrived in Melbourne in 1958, settling in Prahran with his parents and five other siblings. He commenced Primary School at Prahran Technical School. He knew little English at the time but his new classmates Kevin Bartlett and Kevin Sheedy brought him up to speed and influenced Michael to play Australian Rules football in the process. Whilst Michael played 'footy' at school, he joined and excelled at South Yarra Soccer Club as a 14 year old, winning junior best and fairest and leading goalscorer awards.

In 1960, Mandalis moved to Hakoah from South Yarra and again excelled in the Under 16's at Middle Park attracting interest from South Melbourne Hellas committee member Charles Musker - who recommended him to legendary coach Manny Poulakakis. In 1961, Michael moved to play for the South Melbourne Hellas Reserve team and was the top goalscorer at season's end at only 16 years of age.

Mandalis represented Victoria a total of 16 times in all junior competitions and was the first ever South Melbourne Hellas junior to play in the senior team. He later assisted South Melbourne Hellas to win their first  four State League titles in 1962, 1964, 1965 and 1966, including a treble.

Hellas Mandalis
The South Melbourne Hellas Championship winning team from 1964, with Mandalis (kneeling second from the left) the club's leading scorer at the tender age of 19. Source: South Melbourne FC Facebook.

In 1964Mandalis became the leading State League goal scorer at just 19 years of age which attracted Australian national team interest. A year later he played for Victoria against Torpedo Moscow, Bratislava and Chelsea, playing under Rale Rasic who was the coach of Victoria at the time.

He played for Melbourne Hungaria in 1968 before returning to South Melbourne Hellas in 1969, winning the pre-season Ampol Cup before ultimately becoming a part of the club's fifth title winning team in 1972.

Mandalis Victoria
Michael Mandalis (shaking hands) was an ever present in the Victorian state team.

In 1973, Mandalis returned to Hakoah, helping them win the coveted Dockerty Cup trophy and he went on to become Hakoah’s player coach.

Mandalis moved to Naples, Florida in 1983 and set up a private coaching school there where he became acquainted with Australian former No. 1 tennis player Evonne Goolagong-Cawley. There he coached several players who went on to play at the highest level in the UK including Cawley's son, Morgan, who played with Sydney Olympic in the National Soccer League. Mandalis also hosted many Australian kids at his school with several scholarships.

Mandalis HoF
Michael Mandalis in 2019, accepting his award for induction into the Football Victoria Hall of Fame.

In 1996, Mandalis returned to Australia and took up residence in Noosa where he coached Women’s football at Noosa Lions, taking them to the finals in 2003.

Mandalis is now involved in an unofficial capacity as mentor and club assistant at South Melbourne Hellas where he continues to assist multiple players with private coaching and career advice.