Phoenix release All Whites attacker Barbarouses

In a major shock, Wellington Phoenix have agreed to release New Zealand international winger Kosta Barbarouses from the final year of his contract with the Hyundai A-League club.

Barbarouses endured a tough year off the field, prompting him to approach Phoenix management asking for a release for reasons not pertaining to football.

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was initially disappointed but said that he understood Barbarouses’ position.

“It’s not a decision we have made lightly especially after the back end to the season that Kosta had,” said Wellington GM David Dome.

“But it’s never been our policy as a club to stand in the way of a player’s happiness, or the happiness of those dear to him, and as much as we could have dug our heels in, the best thing for all parties concerned is an amicable termination.

“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose a player of Kosta’s pedigree – he’s exactly the type of character we want to attract to this football club.

“But every door closing is a door opening and we remain confident the squad we are currently assembling will have Wellington very much in the mix for finals football.”

Kosta Barbarouses juggles the ball when the Phoenix played the Wanderers in Round 11.

For Barbarouses, it was a position reached after considerable reflection.

“Wellington Phoenix gave me my first start in professional football. There are so many people at this club that I am especially grateful to, and I guess that’s something that’s made this decision a lot harder,” he said.

“People forget sometimes that there are more factors involved than just football.

“Behind every player are a lot of people making sacrifices – I’ve been fortunate to enjoy tremendous support, so sometimes you have to think about others and consider their needs.

“I came home wanting to win a championship for Wellington and New Zealand but obviously that hasn’t happened. It’s frustrating it hasn’t all come together for me at this time, but you never know what’s around the corner in football – maybe under better circumstances we still can.”

Barbarouses made 25 appearances and scored five goals in the 2016/17 Season.

Diego Castro and Kosta Barbarouses battle for the ball in Auckland on Saturday.