Promising rookie midfielder Clayton Lewis has recommitted to Wellington Phoenix for the next two A-League seasons.
The Kiwi club announced the All White's two-year extension will keep him in yellow and black through to and including the 2022/23 season - just reward for an impressive debut campaign during which he has played in all 22 matches, including 20 starts.
The 24-year-old says the opportunity to re-sign with his hometown club required no second thoughts, as the Wellingtonian prepares for his first outing on home soil this weekend.
"It means a lot to me to re-sign," says Lewis. "Growing up and watching the club, always being a fan and now this season I'm putting the jersey on.
"That's quite a big thing for me and to be able to walk out at Sky Stadium with the fans out there this Saturday is going to be special.
"I didn't really expect to play as much as I have done, so obviously I'm really happy about that and I'm really enjoying it."
Known for his endurance and passing vision, Lewis has registered 39 key passes for the Phoenix - second only to Ulises Davila (42) - and is third in minutes played (1,712).
Lewis credits head coach Ufuk Talay for helping elevate his game by sliding him into a more defensive midfield role, an adjustment that has paid dividends.
"I think playing in the six is a little bit different to my usual position, but I get the ball a lot more and I can showcase my passing abilities from a little bit further back," says Lewis.
"I've enjoyed working under [Talay], as playing as a six he demands a lot more defensive work from me so it’s something I’ve had to learn and grow into – but it's something he and the assistant coaches have been helping me along with every step of the way.
"I appreciate everything they're doing, and I hope to continue working with Uffy and he can progress me into an even better footballer."
Talay says Lewis has become an integral cog in the team and is a significant part of their future plans.
"Clayton has done well for us this season," Talay notes. "He's shown good character and passing range... he’s been solid for us.
"I've asked a lot of him playing as a No.6 and, to his credit, he's adapted well and continues to grow as a player and a person.
"I believe Clayton will be an important part of our squad going forward."
Retaining Lewis' services is a welcome boost for the side, after reports this week of star striker Ulises Davila's move to rival A-League club Macarthur FC, as well as Cameron Devlin's imminent departure.
Talay is also off-contract at the end of this season but is currently negotiating a new deal to remain with Welllington.