Wellington Phoenix FC will boast one of the strongest goalkeeping units in the Hyundai A-League with confirmation that Australian international goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will join the Phoenix for the remainder of the 2010/11 season.
The 25-year-old Vukovic will vie with Phoenix incumbent and the hero of New Zealand’s World Cup campaign Mark Paston for the number one custodian’s spot.
Having made more than 100 appearances for the Central Coast Mariners in the Hyundai A-League, as well as representing Australia at under-20 and under-23 levels, Vukovic proved himself one of the best keepers in Australia before heading overseas.
Vukovic had signed a three-year deal with Turkish Super Lig club Konyaspor in June this year but the deal was terminated in August when it was discovered the Turkish outfit had too many overseas players on its books.
While the Turkish debacle was far from delight for Vukovic, the signing of the highly-regarded keeper is a boon for the Phoenix.
With young keeper Reece Crowther expected to be out for at least two months with a fractured rib, Vukovic has been brought to Wellington to push Paston for the starting spot. Former Brisbane Roar keeper Griffin McMaster, who was signed as short-term injury cover for Crowther, will remain with the Phoenix in the interim.
“It’s great to have Danny onboard and he significantly boosts our goalkeeping stocks,” said Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert.
“The competition for the starting goalkeeper’s spot is obviously going to be quite intense now. We’ve got an in-form keeper from the World Cup in Mark Paston, an Australian international in Danny and an upcoming young keeper in Reece Crowther.
“Danny’s not coming here content to be number two – he’ll be pushing for that starting spot.”
Vukovic said he was excited by the prospect of playing regular football again.
“The Phoenix are probably the strongest they’ve been since they came into the competition, so I’m hoping I can come in and strengthen the side further and play as many games as possible.
“We’ve got a few goalkeepers now all vying for one position, so it’ll be a good battle.”
He accepted he could cop a bit of stick if he displaced All Whites hero Paston from the Phoenix’s starting XI.
“He’s a national treasure now. It’ll be a tough challenge but I’m looking forward to it. We’re teammates now and the team comes first, so we’ll push each other hard and whoever plays will deserve it.”
* Vukovic will be available for media interviews following Phoenix training at Newtown Park in Wellington tomorrow (Tuesday, August 24). Interviews will commence at approximately midday NZT.
Date of birth: March 27, 1985 in Sydney, Australia
Height, weight: 1.88m, 86kg
Playing position: Goalkeeper
Club history: 2005-10 Central Coast Mariners, 2004-05 Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 2002-04 Parramatta Power
Hyundai A-League: 104 matches (for Central Coast Mariners)
Representative: 2006-08 Australia under-23 (Olyroos), 2005 Australia under-20