Phoenix sign Tsattalios

Wellington Phoenix have signed former Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets defender Niko Tsattalios for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

Wellington Phoenix have signed former Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets defender Niko Tsattalios for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

Tsattalios was one of a number of players trialling with the New Zealand club over the off-season, but has impressed coach Ricki Herbert enough to be offered a contract with the Phoenix.

"He has done everything right and fitted into the squad well," Herbert said.

"With such a long time 'til the season starts we have been taking our time and making sure we sign the right sort of player."

"Niko fits the bill well. He is a natural fullback who has had A-League experience and it is a bonus that he falls into our under-21 bracket."

"I thought he was the best player on the park in our 2-1 win over the Junior All Whites on Sunday."

"The challenges will keep coming for him but I am sure he is capable of meeting them."

"If I needed to play him in the A-League tomorrow I wouldn't hesitate."

After a season in the Hyundai A-League wilderness, Tsattalios was delighted to be given a contract.

"It will be an honour to play for the Phoenix and I'm delighted that Ricki has given me the opportunity," he declared.

"I've been out of professional football for one and a half years and can't wait to get back into it."

Tsattalios made his debut for Sydney FC as a 16-year-old and was with the club for almost three seasons, although he didn't get many opportunities to play.

The defender had a six-month spell with Newcastle for their Asian Champions League campaign in 2009 but after this stint he played seasons with Sydney Olympic and Sutherland Sharks over the last two years.

"It was Sharks coach Robbie Stanton who gave me the confidence to believe I could get back into professional football and I am grateful to him for that," Tsattalios said.

"When my agent told me there was a bit of interest from Wellington I couldn't wait to get there and give it my best shot."

"I feel like I'm starting from scratch with a clean slate and am really excited."

"The Phoenix boys are an amazing bunch. I couldn't believe the reception I got right from the time I stepped off the plane."

"They were immediately offering me lifts to training and just made things easy for me."

"Going on trial can be a really intimidating experience and here I was going into a dressing room full of internationals."

"They made me welcome at training and it was the same when I played my first game. Dura (captain Andrew Durante) must have given me the ball at least 12 times in the first half and that gave me confidence."

"Now I just want to get stuck in and show Ricki he has made the right decision."