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Striker Shane Smeltz wants to focus on the remainder of Wellington Phoenix’s Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign and will not be hurried into any decision about his playing future.
Smeltz comes off-contract with the Phoenix on June 30 next year and speculation has been swirling around about the 27-year-old and where he may end up playing next season.
“That’s not an issue I’m even considering at the moment – my focus here and now is on playing to the best of my ability for the rest of the season with the Phoenix,” Smeltz said.
“I’m playing the best football of my career and I’m honoured and privileged to have been given the opportunities I have in Wellington. There’s work still to be done and that’s what I’m concentrating on right now. I’m in no rush to make any decisions.”
Family matters will play a pivotal role in Smeltz’s ultimate decision. Smeltz’s wife, Nikki, hails from Adelaide and the couple has two young daughters.
“Nikki and the girls have been in Australia for a little while but they’re coming back to Wellington soon and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
In the hottest goal-scoring form of his career, Smeltz will almost certainly be a target for rival clubs now that the October 1 negotiation window has opened. The Phoenix have already tabled a very attractive offer and the club remains hopeful that Smeltz will extend his stay in the New Zealand capital.
“I love it here. The Phoenix is a great club and Wellington is a great city to live and work in,” Smeltz said. “I’m incredibly thankful to [Phoenix owner] Terry Serepisos and [coach] Ricki Herbert for giving me the chance and making all of this possible.
“I owe an awful lot to the club and as such I’ll be concentrating solely on contributing to the team’s ongoing success on the field.”
With so much to consider regarding his future, Smeltz said it was only prudent that he take his time and weigh up his options.
“This isn’t just about my future as a professional footballer; it’s also about my family’s future. Nikki and the girls are my most important consideration and we’ll eventually make a decision that’s right for the family. We won’t be rushed into anything.”
Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the club respected Smeltz’s position.
“Right now all Shane wants to do is concentrate on playing for the Phoenix and we’re prepared to give him the time and space he needs to make a longer term decision.”