Sotirio out of his comfort zone and flying with Wellington
Wellington Phoenix recruit Jaushua Sotirio said his move across the ditch was about getting out of his comfort zone, which has now been the catalyst for taking his game to a new level.
Sydney-born Sotirio ended his six-year stint with the Wanderers at the end of last season for a fresh start under Ufuk Talay in Wellington.
And the 24-year-old has certainly made the most of the opportunity, featuring in all eight games in the Hyundai A-League so far this season.
For Sotirio, the move across the Tasman was as much about maturing off the pitch as it was his performances on it, where he has been a key contributor in Phoenix’s rise up the ladder.
“It’s my first time living out of Sydney so it’s a different experience, a different challenge and I’m enjoying myself here,” Sotirio told a-league.com.au.
“It was time for me to get out of my comfort zone and go for a different challenge.
"It’s suited me quite well. I’m living with Walter Scott which has been good and I’m getting more confident as I keep playing more minutes.
“And as I get more goals and more assists I’ll get more confidence from that. That’s the aim and that’s what I need to do.”
Sotirio scored his first Hyundai A-League goal for the Phoenix on Saturday – ironically against the club where he made his name in the competition.
Bursting onto the scene as a teenager with the Wanderers in 2013, Sotirio made 81 appearances for the Red and Black before things turned sour last season.
“I had a bit of a falling out with the coach [Markus Babbel], he didn’t really rate me at the start of pre-season,” Sotirio explained.
“So I spoke to my agent and said this is the situation that has been happening. I kept working hard in the last year at the Wanderers and this opportunity came along with the Phoenix and I was quite happy to get the move.
“It felt good scoring against them but it’s more just getting my first goal for Phoenix, it just happened to be against them which is a bit funny.
“My family was there too and they were buzzing for me. They probably have to come to more of my games, I might score more goals.”
While Sotirio is off contract at the end of the 2019/20 Season, his main focus is on helping Phoenix continue their impressive rise up the Hyundai A-League ladder.
After failing to win any of their first five games, Ufuk Talay’s men have won three matches on the bounce to sit in fifth spot on the ladder.
“Morale’s definitely good in the squad at the moment. Everyone is happy but also at the same time we’re still working hard,” Sotirio said.
“Wins don’t come easy so we have to keep working and hopefully that means we’ll keep getting the wins.
“We were pretty much ruled out to come last [before the season] but we’ve been doing quite well.
“It [the experts’ prediction] was spoken about but it didn’t really affect us because Uffy gave us that belief and we’ve always been confident.
“We want to prove people wrong and we’ve been doing that.”
Phoenix haven’t won four games in a row in the Hyundai A-League since 2015 but they can end that drought if they take all three points against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday.
“They have had an up and down season and we have to take advantage of that,” Sotirio said of the Victory clash.
“We’ve got the momentum now. You can’t underestimate them but we’ll go there trying to make it four wins in a row and just keep going as hard as we can.”