From the Finals Series to the NPL: Valeri and Santalab join new club

Brendon Santalab and Carl Valeri both called time on their Hyundai A-League careers at the end of the season but the pair are now joining forces to help a struggling club in NPL Victoria.

The duo – along with ex-Melbourne Victory defender Adrian Leijer – have linked with cellar-dwellers Dandenong City as Ante Moric’s men look to turn their season around.

Santalab’s Hyundai A-League career ended in disappointment on Sunday as Perth Glory lost the Grand Final to Sydney FC in a shootout.

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The 36-year-old, who missed one of Glory’s penalties when his attempted Panenka went wrong, confirmed his new destination in his column in the Illawarra Mercury.

“There's only one way I know how to deal with the disappointment of Sunday's Grand Final, and that's pulling the boots on again and getting back out there,” Santalab wrote.

So on Saturday afternoon, I'll be playing for Dandenong City in the Victorian National Premier League, joining Carl Valeri and Adrian Leijer to help them out for the rest of the season.”

Valeri, 34, played his final game for Victory in Wednesday night’s AFC Champions League defeat to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

He had spent five years at the club, winning two Championships, a Premiers’ Plate and FFA Cup title.

Leijer made more than 170 appearances in two separate stints with Victory, before finishing his professional career last year with Korean club Suwon FC.

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The signing of three experienced and quality players is sure to give City a massive boost, with the club currently second from bottom at the halfway point of the season.

“As club president I’m overwhelmed at the calibre of player we have been able to bring in at Dandenong City,” club president Tony Dorocic told

All three of them are not only wonderful players but are gentlemen and fit the mould of what kind of people we want at Dandenong City.

“It’s a pleasure to have them on board as we fight to do all we can to move away from the foot of the ladder.”

The trio could all make their debuts on Saturday as Dandenong City travel to Avenger Park to play league-leaders Avondale FC.

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