Culina signs as Gold Coast United’s marquee player
AFTER spending the best part of a decade overseas in Holland’s top division, senior Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina is returning home to Australia after agreeing terms on a three-year deal to become the marquee signing for Hyundai A-League newcomers, Gold Coast United.
AFTER spending the best part of a decade overseas in Holland-s top division, senior Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina is returning home to Australia after agreeing terms on a three-year deal to become the marquee signing for Hyundai A-League newcomers, Gold Coast United.
Culina will complete the season with his current club, leading Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven, before joining up with his new teammates on the Gold Coast.
Capped for his country at every international level including 36 appearances for the Socceroos, he returns to home soil at the peak of his powers. At just 28-years-old the midfielder will become the highest profile Australian international to return to the Hyundai A-League and represents a major coup for the Clive Palmer-led club.
A key member of the Socceroos- bid for qualification to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Culina will wear the captain-s armband for United and lead the club-s charge for honours when they enter the competition later this year.
“Some people scoffed when we said six months ago how we intend to win the Hyundai A-League in our first season. Since then we have set about building a squad and team to achieve our aims,” said United Chairman, Professor Clive F Palmer.
He continued: “Jason wants to come back to Australia to be the number one player in the country and show the Australian public his considerable talents. We intend to provide him with the environment to showcase his ability.
“We had a verbal agreement in place and we-re delighted to have now completed all the paperwork; we-re very much looking forward to him joining us. Leadership, strength, character, creativity, professionalism; these are just some of the attributes he will bring to our club.
“He has enjoyed an exciting career so far and his future is just as exciting,” Professor Palmer declared.
Having secured the signature of his number one transfer target, United Head Coach Miron Bleiberg said his aim all along was to bring in a player at his peak.
“Thanks to Clive Palmer we are bringing home a player in his prime who is a polished midfielder and delightful to watch. The public expect to see the Hyundai A-League marquee players heavily involved in the game and with Jason being a midfielder that-s what they will get,” Bleiberg said.
“Jason has everything we were looking for in a marquee player. He-s elegant, hard-working and will be a great example to our players.
“He has a great character and is very well disciplined. That-s what we want from our captain and our leader on the field. He ticks all the boxes and we are proud to be the club who has enticed such a top player back to Australian soil.
“We were ambitious to target him and thanks to Clive Palmer-s skill and tenacity we have got our man. Credit must also go to Jason-s father, Branko Culina, who was very professional and very helpful in the negotiating process. There were a lot of people involved; our CEO Clive Mensink and the club-s legal people worked tirelessly to make this happen, so credit and thanks to them also.”
The United Head Coach declared the return of such a high profile player as the dawn of a new era for the already successful Hyundai A-League, saying the signing of marquee players had now gone to another level.
“Clive Palmer and I wanted to bring home a prominent Socceroo because we knew it would be fantastic for us and fantastic for the game in Australia. Jason is not only a great signing for Gold Coast United; he-s a great signing for the league as a whole.
“Bringing in a top-class player in his prime like Jason sends a message that the Hyundai A-League is ready to move on to ‘phase two- so-to-speak, because the bar has been raised now.”
Also joining Jason at Gold Coast United is former Socceroo striker Joel Porter and Dutch defender Bas van den Brink.
30-year-old Porter represents another coup for United who fought off the competition to land the former Socceroo striker on a three-year deal. Porter has been banging in goals for Hartlepool in England-s League One, leading the club-s goalscoring charts with 13 goals in 29 appearances so far this term.
Porter, the former West Adelaide, Melbourne Knights and Sydney Olympic hit-man, will be looking to make an immediate impact on the Hyundai A-League after spending the last six years in England.
188cm defender Bas van den Brink was a teammate of United midfielder Zenon Caravella at FC Omniworld in the Netherlands and will add both depth and quality to the United rearguard.
Van den Brink, who is comfortable in a number of defensive positions, played in the top Dutch division and UEFA Cup with FC Utrecht and at just 26-years-old he has his best years in front of him.
The signing of Culina, Porter and van den Brink takes the Gold Coast United roster to a total of 21 out of the permitted 23 players.
JASON CULINA FACT FILE
Date of birth: 5 August 1980 Place of birth: Melbourne VIC Weight: 75kg Height: 175cm Position: Midfielder
1996-1998 Sydney United (Australia) 1998-1999 Sydney Olympic (Australia) 2000-2004 Ajax (Holland) 2001 Germinal Beerschot (loan - Belgium) 2002-2003 De Graafschap (loan - Netherlands) 2004-2006 FC Twente (Netherlands) 2006-2009 PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)
Socceroos Qantas Under 23s Qantas Young Socceroos Qantas Joeys
Major Honours Achieved:
1999 FIFA World Youth Championships (Nigeria) 2000 Olympic Games Finals (Sydney) 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup (Germany) 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals (Germany) 2007 Asian Cup Finals
3 Dutch Championships with PSV Eindhoven
UEFA Champions League & UEFA Cup appearances
JOEL PORTER FACT FILE
Date of birth: 25 December 1978 Place of birth: Adelaide, SA Weight: 76kg Height: 175cm Position: Striker
Previous clubs (professional):
1998-1999 West Adelaide 2000-2002 Melbourne Knights 2002-2003 Sydney Olympic 2003-2009 Hartlepool (England)
Representative Honours: Qantas Socceroo Major Honours: 2004/05 Hartlepool Fan-s Player of the Year
CONFIRMED ROSTER TO DATE (21 players):
Goalkeepers: Jess Vanstrattan, Scott Higgins.
Defenders: Adam Griffiths, Daniel Piorkowski, Kristian Rees, Michael Thwaite, Bas van den Brink.
Midfielders: Steve Pantelidis, Robson, Jefferson, Richard Greer, Jason Culina (marquee).
Utility: Matt Osman, Steve Fitzsimmons, Zenon Caravella, James Brown, Tahj Minniecon (U/23 marquee),
Strikers: Shane Smeltz, Andrew Barisic, Milson, Joel Porter.
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