Tarek Elrich says his return to Western Sydney Wanderers for next season feels like he is ‘coming home’ and admits he has unfinished business at the club.
The Wanderers confirmed on Wednesday that Elrich – one of the club’s first-ever signings back in 2012 – would return on a two-year deal.
After five seasons with Adelaide United – which included a Championship-Premiership double in 2016 and an FFA Cup triumph – Elrich is excited to be back in his hometown.
The fullback grew up in the region watching the NSL and supporting his brother Ahmed while he played for Parramatta Power, before embarking on his own football journey at a grassroots level with Parramatta Melita Eagles.
Now 31, Elrich is blown away by the growth of football in Western Sydney and credits the Wanderers for taking it to another level.
"In those first few seasons when Western Sydney were introduced, I feel football in that region has grown so much and I've obviously missed it being in Adelaide," Elrich said.
"I'm really glad to be part of it now, in Western Sydney, where it all started for me. I have a lot of cousins and friends who look up to me and want to be like me.
“Now to be able to come watch me week-in and week-out, hopefully, I can help them achieve their goals and hopefully one day they can be professional athletes as well.
"It's all about doing my bit for the footballing nation in Western Sydney and I'm really looking forward to it."
While Elrich admits being a part of the club’s inaugural squad is one of the best memories of his career, there is a tinge of sadness from that maiden season in 2012/13.
While the club had a superb season and won the Premiers’ Plate, the Grand Final defeat to Central Coast Mariners still burns the 3-cap Caltex Socceroo.
"It was a long time ago now, but for me, being one of the first players signed to my hometown team was my greatest memory," said Elrich.
"There's one thing though I can't really get over and that's losing that Grand Final.
"It still haunts me to this day and I just feel that I didn't get to play the role that I feel I could have had in that Grand Final.
"That is something I will never forget and hopefully we can turn things around once I put the Red and Black hoops on again."