A-League: Wellington Phoenix snare All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinović

All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic
All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. Photo credit: Getty

All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinović has signed a two-year contract with the Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League.

Marinovic, 27, began his career with Auckland City, but has played more than 100 league appearances in Germany.

He made his international debut in 2015 and starred for New Zealand at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, signing for Vancouver Whitecaps in the US Major League Soccer afterwards.

Last year, he left North America to join Bristol City in the English second-tier championship.

"I've always wanted to return back to New Zealand to play at some point," says Marinović.

"Whether that was now or in a couple of years, it didn't really matter, but it's great that this opportunity has come around now.

"My family - especially my dad - is really happy that I'm coming home, as I've been away for 10 years, so the opportunity to play back on home soil and see my family more often gives me more of a drive."

The Phoenix have just completed their most successful season since 2015, finishing sixth and losing to Melbourne Victory in the elimination final.

But coach Mark Rudan left the club after just one year of his two-year term, sparking an exodus that has seen A-League Player of the Year Roy Krishna and Goalie of the Year Filip Kurto also depart.

Marinović will cover the loss of Kurto, working under goalkeeping coach Paul Gothard, and alongside incumbent glovemen Oli Sail and Zac Jones.

"The whole time I have been involved with the All Whites, I've had Paul Gothard as a coach, so the chance to work with him again is one I'm really looking forward to," says Marinović.

"We have an extremely good relationship on and off the field, and what's more, having an all-Kiwi goalkeeping team is really special. I can't wait to meet the team and get into it."

His arrival will be a relief to new coach Ufuk Talay, as he tries to rebuild a roster that has lost eight other front-line players.

"I'm delighted to have signed a number-one goalkeeper that brings a lot of experience into the team," says Talay.

"For us, he'll be an exceptional leader inside the box and a great shot stopper as part of our backline."

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