After being initially rebuffed by the AFC Champions League-winning former Western Sydney Wanderers torchbearer, Sage dug deep to seal the deal with a three-year contract believed to be worth $700,000 a season.
It’s shy of the $1.1 million Popovic commanded during his success-saturated era at Wonderland, but is still a significant investment in the 44-year-old as he jumps back into the saddle after his ill-fated 12-game reign with Turkish battlers Karabukspor.
It’s been mooted that the extra cash to lure the three-time grand finalist and premiership winning coach was freed up by the likely exit of Glory marquee Diego Castro.
However Sage insisted that talks between the off-contract Spaniard and Popovic will determine whether the 35-year-old is re-signed for another season or not.
The exultant owner was justifiably bullish over the club’s future on Friday night, telling The World Game: “We haven't yet fulfilled our true potential in the A League. “Coming close in the 2012 grand final and reaching two FFA Cup finals is not good enough.
“We want silverware. Popa has that same desire and he will bring a renewed vigour to Glory. “
Sage also confirmed that former Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata would fill the void left by the exiting Peter Filopoulos as part of the club’s drastic off-field transition.
“Together with the successful CEO - Tony Pignata starts in June - it will be a case of the the three Tony's bringing success to Glory in the years to come,” he declared.
While Castro made only 22 appearances as the Kenny Lowe-led Glory missed out on the finals this season, Sage insisted talk of his likely departure after three seasons of lighting up the A-League was premature.
“Diego wants to stay but it’s the coach’s decision. He and Tony Popovic will have one-on-one talks.”
It’s believed that Popovic has up to four signings of his own ready to be brought in for next season at a moment’s notice.
Popovic, who began his coaching career as an assistant at former club Crystal Palace, still has ambitions to have another tilt at an overseas job, and success with Glory would provide the perfect platform.