Central Coast Mariners have secured Goalkeeper of the Year Mark Birighitti and all-time leading goalscorer, veteran striker Matt Simon, on new deals.
This comes after the Mariners also locked down centreback Kye Rowles for another two years, cementing the beginning of a spine for the Gosford club next season.
Birighitti signs on for two more years, as he's expecting a second child and wants to settle in Gosford long-term. It's a major coup for the Mariners, after Birighitti was named joint-Goalkeeper of the Year at the Dolan Warren awards last night.
Birighitti came to the Mariners from Melbourne City ahead of the 2019-20 season, and made an instant impression, winning the Mariners Medal in his first campaign before re-signing for the 2020/21 A-League season.
Speaking this week after re-signing, the 30-year-old said he was looking forward to going around again as a key player and as part of the squad’s leadership group.
“I am very happy to spend the next two years on the Coast,” he said.
“My family is happy and obviously it was an easy decision for me considering the year we’ve just had, very happy and really looking forward to another two years here.”
“The leadership group we have here is a great group, and we can all pass on our experience to the younger boys in the Club. It was a massive year last season, now the hard work continues moving onto next season and hopefully we can go a few steps further.”
Meanwhile, Mariners great Matt Simon has signed a one-year extension with the club that will see him play on for the A-League 2021/22 season.
The club’s all-time leading goal scorer, Simon had one of his best individual seasons on 2020/21, scoring 10 times and assisting another three goals as he formed a formidable partnership up front with Costa Rican Marco Urena.
2021/22 will be Simon’s 12th season with the Mariners, and with 288 A-League matches already under his belt will likely see him break the 300-game mark.
The veteran striker said he is looking forward to another campaign and growing the support and pride for the Mariners that has returned to the Coast.
“This season that we just had was very successful, and after speaking to the club and talking about going around for another year it was an easy decision in the end,” he said.
“It was nice to score the goals, but even nicer to finish third on the table and I’m very happy with how the team and the club went this year and I’m already looking forward to next year.”
“I’ve mentioned the Wollongong game, when we played Wellington down there it actually felt like a home game for us.”
“That was a time I actually thought it was getting back to the good old days with the support we’ve had, and I think the crowd really appreciated what we were able to do this year, and to have them come back to the ground and support us the way they did is a testament to them.”
Mariners Head of Football Ken Schembri welcomed Simon’s commitment to another campaign on the Central Coast.
“Matty’s name is synonymous with the Mariners, and we were very keen to have him return for another season,” Schembri said.
“He had a terrific season on the pitch this season, but he also brings so much value in the dressing room as a leader and as a mentor for the young members of our squad, and that aspect of his contribution will be so important in the Mariners continued forward progress.”
“I’ve been around the league for many years, and this is one of the best dressing rooms I have been a part of. I love playing for this club, it’s brought out the best in me and that was one of the main reasons behind me staying at the club.”
“We’ve got the best group here with the players and I want to be a part of that.”