Gilligan, the man who helped nurture the talent of Australia star Tom Rogic during his three years in charge of the Nike Academy, also had a brief stint as first team coach at Championship side Nottingham Forest, one of nine clubs he played for during his professional career.
He also played in European competition while under Graham Taylor at Watford, and was also responsible for honing the gifts of teenage starlet Oliver Buke while in charge of Forest’s development academy.
The winger has just moved from Forest to Germanys RB Leipzig in a $24 million deal, and has been hailed as a “natural phenomenon” by the club’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick.
It’s understood that that Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna is looking closely at Gilligan as a possible replacement for the sacked Scott Miller, who was shown the door along with assistant Luca Trani after the pair had a bust-up during the club’s recent Chinese tour.
Gilligan also helped develop Michael Hector during his time at Forest, with the defender subsequently sold to Chelsea and now on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Where the Jets to land Gilligan – one of 40 applicants who have shown an interest in the job – it would take them down an path of youth develop combined, with a knowledge of elite coaching acumen at the other end of the spectrum thrown in for good measure.
In his current role as FA England’s National Coach Educator, Gilligan oversees courses for A, B and Pro Licences for coaches looking to hone their craft – his pupils include former England Under-21 coach and Forest firebrand Stuart Pearce and his successor Gareth Southgate.
Gilligan, who is also a close confidant of FA director of elite development Dan Ashworth, is now keen to spread his wings and move into club management, and sees Australia as fertile ground for a new career trajectory.
Though McKinna has worked with Jones before during his time as coach of Chinese club Chongqing Lifan and has identified him as a leading candidate, it’s believed that Gilligan, 52, has peeked his interest due to the diversity of his background.