Phoenix sign UK striker

The Wellington Phoenix's first step in the search for strike power to replace Shane Smeltz has led to the signing of English veteran Chris Greenacre.

The Wellington Phoenix's first step in the search for strike power to replace Shane Smeltz has led to the signing of English veteran Chris Greenacre.

Greenacre has penned a two-year deal with the Phoenix from League One club Tranmere Rovers, where he has been the club's top scorer for three of his last four seasons.

As well as Tranmere, the 31-year-old has played for Manchester City, Stoke City and Mansfield Town.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert and chief executive Tony Pignata had targeted Greenacre prior to a recruiting mission to the United Kingdom in March.

Owing to the loss of last year's Golden Boot winner Smeltz to expansion club Gold Coast United, the Phoenix are confident Greenacre is a more than worthy replacement.

"We've had tremendous feedback from a lot of people that we've spoken to about Chris, from coaches and managers to his fellow players," Pignata said.

"He's been Tranmere's top scorer for three seasons and has been part of a side this season that is pushing for promotion to the Championship."

"His qualities as a professional are second to none, and that was clear to Ricki and me within the first 10 minutes of meeting him. We're very excited about getting him here to join the Phoenix."

"Chris has a proven pedigree as a striker and we're certain he will fit in very well at the Phoenix."

Greenacre and wife Lynsey are scheduled to arrive in Wellington in the first week of June ahead of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season, which begins in early August.

"I can't wait," Greenacre said, adding that he had no second thoughts about uprooting to the other side of the world after a long English career.

"It wasn't a tough decision at all, certainly not from a football perspective. The more I learned about the club and about Wellington from Tony the more it appealed."

Rather than being a flashy player with a long-range eye for goal, Greenacre prides himself on being a striker who gets 'in the right place at the right time'.

"I'm not so much a target man as the sort of player who can hold the ball up, score what some people might call the 'ugly' goals, I guess - get in and around the box and on the posts and scramble them in," he said.

"I'm not the sort of player who is going to take the ball on halfway, beat five guys then curl the ball past the keeper. It's more about using my knowledge and experience to get into good scoring positions and to be clinical in finishing."

He is well aware the heat is on in coming to the Phoenix in the wake of the vastly popular Smeltz's departure.

"I guess there will be a bit of pressure but I've been in the game as a professional long enough to know what's expected of me and my record speaks for itself," he said.

"I've had the pressures of expectation put on me everywhere I've played, so it's nothing new. I've never been the sort of player to bluff my way through things - I'm honest with myself and I work hard to gets things right."

The Phoenix will continue to search for a second striker to compliment their new signing.

"We've got other options and Ricki wants a target man, so that's what we're looking for," Pignata said. "We're taking our time because we want to make sure we get the right person, and we're hopeful that by the end of June we will have signed the bulk of our squad."