Wellington Phoenix have swooped to sign Bristol City and New Zealand International stopper Stefan Marinović on a two-year contract.
The All Whites’ first choice goalkeeper was born in Auckland and began his career at Auckland City before being signed by third-tier German side SV Wehen Wiesbaden, followed by stints at FC Ismaning, 860 Munich Reserves and SpVgg Unterhaching. In total, Marinović had 100 league appearances in Germany.
Marinović, 27, made his New Zealand debut in March 2015 in a friendly against South Korea and has since notched up 24 caps.
After an impressive display at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, Marinović joined Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS.
After 32 appearances, the goalkeeper was signed by Bristol City in the EFL Championship for the 2018/19 season.
Marinović is excited to make a return to his homeland and is looking forward to the new challenge," he said today.
‘‘I’ve always wanted to return back to New Zealand to play at some point, 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 ten years so the opportunity to play back on home soil and see my family more often gives me more of a drive.
''The club has had an extremely impressive campaign and I’m looking forward to being a part of the group that hopes to surpass that next season.''
The Kiwi International is looking forward to being in a familiar environment, having worked with Paul Gothard in the All Whites setup.
‘‘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," said Marinovic.
‘‘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.’’
Head coach Ufuk Talay is happy to have landed his first priority since coming to the club.
‘‘I’m delighted to have signed a number one goalkeeper that brings a lot of experience into the team," he said.
''For us, he’ll be an exceptional leader inside the box and a great shot stopper as part of our backline.
‘‘To have Stefan’s international pedigree will further add to our number of talented homegrown players within the club.
‘‘With the benefit of experienced goalkeeping coach, Paul Gothard, Stefan will add to the quality of competition amongst the goalkeepers in Oli Sail and Zac Jones.''
Marinović will link up with his new teammates when pre-season commences in July.