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Opinion

Bruce Djite, from the pitch to the board rooms

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3 days ago
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One of Australian football’s youngest and best football directors has announced his departure.

The 34-year-old Bruce Djite, who has been Adelaide United’s director of football for the past two seasons, announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season to take on the exciting role of CEO of the Committee for Adelaide.

In a club-released statement, Djite said:

“Adelaide United always has and will always have a special place in my heart.

“I am proud of the great environment and culture we have rebuilt within the club and it is fantastic to see the club return to putting South Australia and South Australians first, whilst still attracting great interstate and international talent.

“I believe the club is better positioned for growth today than it ever has been and, while there is always further improvement to be made, the re-establishment of the club’s true identity will continue to see it do well on and off the field.“

At the ripe old age of 31 years old, Djite called time on a playing career that saw him score goals in Australia, Turkey and South Korea. He also represented the Socceroos on multiple occasions in different age groups.

Towards the end of his football career, Djite was appointed as the PFA executive member where he played a key role in CBA negotiations. His attitude and work ethic won him many plaudits with his peers and admirers from other sectors.

Being the son of a diplomat and born in Washington, it already seemed pre-written that Djite would move to a successful political career.

With his playing days now firmly behind him, Djite had put away his shorts and shin pads for a more professional look of suits and ties as he embarked on kicking goals in the board room.

The director of football role at Adelaide United had become a hot seat though.

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Hindmarsh Stadium

(Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

The previous incumbent Ante Kovacevic presided over the football department in a trophy-laden era for the club, winning the A-League championship in 2015-16 and the FFA Cup in 2018 and 2019.

Kovacevic wanted to go home to Victoria and left the club for a role with Western United. United then brought in another home town hero and Socceroos legend, Aurelio Vidmar, as the director of football.

Vidmar quit after just a few months, citing that he struggled to cope with the heavy administration workload of the job. The position then fell into Djite’s lap.

Since taking the role of director of football in June 2019, Djite has widely been credited for drastically improving club culture and youth development pathways.

Following Djite’s appointment, United focused more heavily on producing home-grown local talent and having club legends such as Carl Veart, Ross Aloisi and Eugene Galekovic back at the club in coaching roles.

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His best bit of business was bringing Riley McGree back to the club, before selling him onto Charlotte FC for near seven-figure profits.

One of South Australia’s adopted sons, Djite has always been a caring and giving person.

He is an ambassador for multiple charities including All Together Now and the Little Heroes Foundation and has been a crusader for racial equality throughout Australia.

His new role with the Committee for Adelaide will see Djite utilise his skills in leadership, negotiations, strategy, advocacy and business development throughout South Australia. Hopefully this will lead to some new football initiatives for the city.

I’ve known Djite for almost 15 years and have been lucky enough to maintain our friendship from the early days of playing FIFA on the PlayStation in Henley Beach to going to hip hop shows together and all the way to the board room at Adelaide United.

It is a bittersweet moment as I am genuinely thrilled and happy for my friend to be given his new opportunity, but sad that Adelaide United and the Australian football community loses a great young mind.

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