Ernie Merrick’s quest to sign talented young New Zealand-born footballers continued today with Kwabena Appiah joining the Wellington Phoenix for the rest of this season and next season.
Appiah, 22, recently spent three days training with the Phoenix and Merrick was impressed enough to open negotiations with his representatives before the player returned to Sydney.
“We are always on the lookout for talented young players, especially those who can represent New Zealand,” Merrick said.
“During the time he spent with us he showed good technical ability, speed and a willingness to learn.
“He also underwent fitness testing and came up trumps in all departments.
“Kwabena was one of Tony Popovic’s first signings for Western Sydney Wanderers and played in the Asian Champions League final.
“Another plus was the lad’s personality because we want players who fit into our culture and our leadership group are good with young players.
“Mikey (McGlinchey) knows him from his time at the Mariners and spoke highly about him.
“He fits the bill so far as we are concerned and now has an opportunity to continue his promising career.”
Appiah had his appetite whetted during his three days at the Phoenix’ Newtown Park training ground and is looking forward to returning to Wellington on Monday.
“I like the way Ernie Merrick has the boys playing. It is exciting,” Appiah said.
“I can’t wait to be a part of it and the boys made me feel welcome right from the start.
“Ernie Merrick has a reputation for developing young players such as Robbie Kruse and Marco Rojas and I look forward to developing my game working with him.”
Appiah, who was born in New Zealand of Ghanaian parents and moved to Australia as a six-year-old, laughs when he says he hopes to be a lucky charm for his new club.
“I am only 22 but have crammed a bit in to my career so far,” he said.
“I won the National Youth League title with the Mariners, won an A-League minor premiership with the Wanderers and an Asian Champions League grand final with them.
“I played in all their Champions League games apart from the first leg of the final and it would be good to complete the set by winning an A-League grand final with the Phoenix.”