MELBOURNE - Australia's greatest football export, Harry Kewell, returned home to join A-League side
Melbourne Victory on Saturday, ending a protracted transfer saga
that cost him a place in the Socceroos squad.
The 32-year-old former Liverpool forward had been without a
club since leaving Turkish side Galatasaray at the end of last
season and had been negotiating a move for more than two months.
"Harry is an Australian sporting icon and will bring not
only incredible talent to Melbourne Victory but will attract
more fans to football and boost greater interest and
participation in the sport in Australia," the club's chairman
Anthony Di Pietro said in a statement.
"Our discussions with Harry have been progressing for some
time and we are delighted to have completed what is the most
significant signing in Australian football and... A-League
The move for Kewell, who has scored 16 goals in 54
appearances for his country and played in two World Cups, ends a
European-based career which, although successful, could have
been more fruitful if it wasn't for continued injury problems.
Although his signing is a major coup for the struggling
domestic league, which has seen clubs struggle with finances and
one close, Kewell and his agent have been pilloried in the
Australian media for lavish demands, which included a cut of
"I am proud to be Australian and want to give something back
to the game there," Kewell told the Melbourne Victory website.
"It has always been my ambition to play in my home country
and I am very pleased to have that opportunity by playing for
Twice A-League champions Melbourne Victory, who kick-off
their season on October 8 against Sydney FC, has signed a
three-year deal with Kewell, local media said.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) also hailed Kewell's
"This is a red-letter day for the... A-League and Australian
football," FFA Chief Executive Ben Buckley said in a statement.
"The signing of Harry Kewell tells the story of ambition,
credibility and growth for the game in Australia.
"Harry is rightly acclaimed as Australia's most gifted
footballer with a celebrated record of achievement. His
homecoming will be hugely popular."
A tricky winger, he made his name at Leeds United who he
joined after a trial as a 15-year-old, before moving to
Liverpool where he won the Champions League in 2005 and the FA
Cup in 2006.
In recent years, his slowing pace has led him to play in a
more advanced role but he has struggled to score regularly.
He was guilty of a costly miss when clear through on goal
late on in the Asian Cup final in January, which Japan won 1-0
But despite the problems, the Sydney-born forward remained
in demand with a number of A-League side expressing an interest
in signing him.
The end of the transfer saga is also likely to see Kewell
regain his place in the Socceroos squad ahead of their World Cup
qualifying campaign which starts next month.
Kewell was left out of the Socceroos' squad by coach Holger
Osieck for their 2-1 friendly win in Wales earlier this month
because of fitness concerns.
Australia open their Asian Zone third round Group D campaign
at home to Thailand on September 2. They need to finish in the top
two of a group also containing Saudi Arabia and Oman to advance
to the fourth round.
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Andy Carroll pulls out of England's friendly internationals against Ireland and Brazil
West Ham United have signed Romania captain Razvan Rat on a free transfer
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010