Perth Glory has made the most significant investment in its playing squad since the club’s inception and added a critical component ahead of their new campaign with confirmation today that Socceroos attacker Mile Sterjovski has signed as Glory’s marquee player for the next three seasons.
Perth Glory has made the most significant investment in its playing squad since the club-s inception and added a critical component ahead of their new campaign with confirmation today that Socceroos attacker Mile Sterjovski has signed as Glory-s marquee player for the next three seasons.
Sterjovski scored the opening goal in Australia-s 2-0 win against Bahrain in a World Cup Qualifier on Wednesday night to underscore his status as a world class player.
“There is no doubt Mile is a terrific player,” said Perth Glory Coach Dave Mitchell.
“He is also a wonderful character and true professional who-ll significantly add to our squad and the A-League in general.
“Mile will positively impact matches for Perth Glory week in and week out and I-m delighted he has agreed to join the club,” Mitchell said.
The 30 year old has represented Australia on 40 occasions, scoring eight goals, and becomes the second current national team player to be recruited by Perth in the off-season. Sterjovski will join Socceroos midfielder Jacob Burns in a beefed up Glory team set to tackle the Hyundai A-League in 2009/10.
“When you look at the marquee status and the criteria to fill that role then Mile fits the bill perfectly,” said Mitchell.
“If someone had said a few months ago that we-d have two Socceroos in our squad for the start of the new season it would have been quickly dismissed, however that-s exactly what we-ve done, we-ve added quality, and Glory supporters have a lot to get excited about this season.”
Sterjovski joins Perth from English Championship club Derby County and returns to Australia following a successful nine year career in Europe where he played Premier League football in England as well as successful stints in France with Lille and Swiss club FC Basel.
His signature signals Perth-s Championship credentials and reunites player and coach after Mitchell helped develop the young and talented striker at Sydney United, where Sterjovski went on to win the NSL Golden Boot Award, and Parramatta Power a decade ago.
Their close bond enabled Perth to successfully outmanoeuvre rival offers for Sterjovski who had attracted plenty of interest from other Hyundai A-League clubs plus European and Asian sides eager to get their hands on the classy attacker.
“There was speculation Mile could be leaving Derby so we looked at how we could get him to Perth however a player of his quality was always going to be in high demand,” Mitchell said.
“We never discounted the change of being able to secure his services and our patience and diligence has paid off.
“Credit has to go to Glory owner Tony Sage, he made a commitment to spend the money to get a marquee player to the club and we looked long and hard to find the right player for that role.
“In securing Mile I-m confident we have found the perfect fit for Perth Glory, it has defiantly been worth the wait,” said Mitchell.
There will be some familiar faces in the Glory line-up when Sterjovski joins pre-season training in early July. Derby defender Andy Todd will be pulling on a Glory shirt this season while Socceroos team mate, and close friend, Jacob Burns, has also returned from Europe to help take Perth back to the pinnacle of Australian football.
“I-m very happy to be joining Perth, the players they have brought into the club show their desire and commitment to challenge for honours this season and I-m looking forward to being part of that,” Sterjovski said.
“You couldn-t get a better professional than Andy Todd and Jacob is a great player and a long time friend. It certainly made the decision easier to know those boys were there and I-m looking forward to meeting the other guys and gelling with a squad that I-m sure can achieve great results this season.”
The Glory will boast one of the most potent attacking line-ups in the league with Sterjovski joining Frenchman Eugene Dadi, fresh from a 10 goal feast last season, and new signing Branko Jelic who plundered 21 goals in the Chinese Super League in his last stint in Asia. All three players boast extensive European experience and will be complemented by up and coming West Australian talent including Anthony Skorich who scored in the final game last season after being promoted from Glory-s Youth Team.
Mitchell believes the lure of a place in Australia-s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad will only enhance the desire of Glory-s new Australian recruits to make good on their return home and ensure they-re top of mind in national team selection.
“Having these players pushing for a place in the Socceroos squad for the World Cup is perfect. They will be preparing and playing to the highest standard to make sure Pim is watching them closely, that can only be a good thing for Perth Glory.
“It-s win-win,” Mitchell said.
Sterjovski agrees and is confident he has made the right decision when it comes to building a case for his inclusion in the World Cup squad to play in South Africa.
“I-m determined to be part of the World Cup and playing regularly at a successful club will enhance my chances. There are parallels between Perth Glory-s success and my goal of playing in next year-s World Cup and I believe both can be achieved,” Sterjovski said.
The addition of Sterjovski to the Glory squad on a long term deal will provide a nucleus from which Perth can build a team capable of winning the Hyundai A-League Championship and then push into the Asian Champions League.
“We wanted to bring stability to our squad, we haven-t had that in Perth since the inception of the A-League and it is vitally important,” said Mitchell.
“I have focused on securing players that want to be here. Mile has made a significant commitment to the club, he isn-t just coming here for a season then heading off, he wants to be part of a long and sustained era of success at Perth Glory and that-s what we-re all aiming to achieve,” Mitchell said.
Sterjovski is expected to join his new Perth Glory team mates in early July and Mitchell has flagged his intention of using the striker when Perth tackles English Premier League side-s Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham on July 10 and 15.
“A lot of things have happened in the off-season. We reassessed what we needed at the club and have added full-time staff and expertise in areas where there were some deficiencies.
“Bringing the best players available to the club has always been our philosophy and with the commitment from Tony Sage to spend the salary cap and have extra for a marquee we have been able to bolster our playing stocks significantly.
“Mile will do his talking on the park. He is a team player, I have worked with him before and maintained a strong relationship over the years and I-m very much looking forward to him being part of a squad I-m coaching. I-m extremely happy that it will be in Perth where we have set ourselves for a big season.”
Profile: Mile Sterjovski
Date of Birth: 27 May 1979 (age 30)
Place of Birth: Wollongong, Australia
Position: Striker / Right wing
National Team Appearances
Qantas Socceroos 40apps (8 goals)
Qantas Young Socceroos
Major Honours Achieved
1999 World Youth Championships (Nigeria); 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup (Korea/Japan); 2006 FIFA World Cup (Germany); 2007 Asian Cup
1999 National Soccer League U21 Player of the Year
1998/99 National Soccer League Golden Boot Winner
1995-96 Wollongong Wolves (Australia); 1996-97 Wollongong United (NSW); 1997-99 Sydney United (Australia); 1999-2000 Parramatta Power (Australia); 2000-04 Lille (France); 2004-07 FC Basel (Switzerland); 2007 OFTAS Genclerbirligi (Turkey); 2008 – 09 Derby County (England)