Wellington Phoenix have received a huge boost heading into the New Year with Johnny Warren medalist and Caltex Socceroos attacker Nathan Burns joining the club.
Burns has inked a two-year deal with Phoenix, returning to the club where he was top scorer in the 2014/15 Season.
“When I was in Wellington I was playing really well, it was probably the highlight of my career, I had good players around me, guys like Roy and Mikey who are still here, and as soon as I landed again I felt happy to be in the city, it feels like home," Burns said.
“With the [January window] opening I’ve had plenty of offers from A-League and around Asia but when I heard Phoenix were keen that was my first choice.
“The fans here are tremendous, the people in New Zealand are some of the nicest you’ll meet and I feel almost a little sense of unfinished business – you’re never out in the A-League, a few wins and you can make a late charge for the finals and then who knows.”
After bursting on to the scene with Adelaide United, Blayney-born Burns had a brief spell with Newcastle Jets before really fulfilling his potential with the Phoenix in the 2014-15 Season.
He top-scored for the club with thirteen goals, guiding Wellington to the finals and winning the Johnny Warren medal as the league’s best player.
High profile transfers to the J-League with FC Tokyo and Sanfrecce Hiroshima haven’t gone the way the striker would have liked, with Burns left eager to prove himself once again at a stadium where he enjoyed so much success.
“I’ve had some very positive experiences overseas, in Japan but also playing with the [Australian] national team, but I’m ready to come back,” he said.
Burns has arrived in Wellington and successfully passed a medical and could feature in Phoenix’s upcoming home games against Melbourne Victory (10 January) and Western Sydney Wanderers (13 January).
“We’re absolutely delighted to have Nathan back”, said General Manager David Dome.
“He’s a player with a top, top pedigree, a tremendous work ethic and ambition to succeed and he’s somebody that’s synonymous with some of the best times we’ve seen at this club.
“Nathan is a player that any A-League club would want – so it’s a real feather in our cap that he’s chosen to come back to Wellington.
“We’re not accepting our current position on the table, we haven’t given up on this season. We’ve gone through a major rebuild of our footballing department and it’s so positive to see that quality players still want to buy-in into what we’re doing.”