Newcastle Jets' off-season recruitment crusade has continued with the signing of experienced defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley on a two-year deal.
Towering 32-year-old stopper Topor-Stanley, who skippered Western Sydney Wanderers to their 2014 AFC Champions League title, re-joins the Jets having played last season in the UAE Gulf League with Hatta Club.
He joins Dan Georgievski, Glen Moss, Dimitri Petratos, Roy O'Donovan, Kosta Petratos and Mario Shabow as Jets' off-season recruits.
The four-time Socceroo and former Australian youth international featured 81 times for the Jets in the A-League between 2009 and 2012 before linking with Tony Popovic’s Wanderers for the first four seasons of their existence.
While with Wanderers, Topor-Stanley enhanced his reputation as one of Australia’s elite centre-backs, helping steer the red-and-blacks not only to continental glory but also three A-League Grand Final appearances (2013, 2014 & 2016) and the competition’s Premiership in 2013.
The three-time Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Team of the Season inductee said that it feels great to be returning to Newcastle to represent a region he knows cares deeply about football.
“I have had a good history of playing football in this region and I know the passion that the people have for their team,” Topor-Stanley said.
“I know that the people are very proud people here and the fact that they haven’t had that much success recently means it will be even sweeter when we do reach that.
“There is a long road ahead and I am really looking forward to getting out on the training track. Hopefully I can add my experience of what I have learnt both here and abroad to help bring winning times.”
Topor-Stanley said that he believes new Jets coach Ernie Merrick has the know-how and expertise to help the team excel, and added that he’s more than willing to convey key learnings from his time under another of the competition’s most successful managers Tony Popovic to his teammates if called upon.
“His track record speaks for itself,” Topor-Stanley said.
“I know that he is capable of getting the job done, but this is only the beginning.
“I learnt some very valuable lessons during my time under Tony. You have to leave no stone unturned, especially in the pre-season, to really set yourself a platform for success.
"I lived five years of that and I have seen first hand what hard work and dedication brings you. So I have no issues with passing on my experience and giving 100 per cent."
Merrick hailed the recruitment of Topor-Stanley and said his addition to the Club’s A-League roster will add significant depth, leadership and experience to the Jets’ squad.
“As I stated when I arrived at the Jets we need to strengthen the squad and add experience, and Nikolai fits the job description 100 per cent,” Merrick said.
“He is a skilful and uncompromising defender who will provide on-field leadership.
“The fact that Nikolai has played previously for the Club is another bonus. He knows what to expect and what is needed at the Jets in order for us to make the Finals."