Signing news: Phoenix secure NZ international striker, experienced goalkeeper

Wellington Phoenix have strengthened their Hyundai A-League squad with the signing of All Whites attacker Monty Patterson and experienced goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. 

Paterson joins the club on an initial loan deal, while Velaphi has signed a contract until the end of the season.

A competitor at the FIFA U-17 and FIFA U-20 World Cup, Patterson has spent the last five years on the books of Ipswich Town in England’s Championship, signing professional terms since 2016.

In 2016 the then teenager also made his full New Zealand international debut, scoring against USA in a friendly later that year.

Now 21, for Patterson the opportunity to play for the Phoenix comes at an important time in his development.

“I’m really excited,” said Patterson, “It’s such a great chance to play competitive football in a quality league, and it’s so special doing it back home with the only professional team from my country.”

“I’ve developed a lot in my five years in England, it’s such a physically demanding game over here – you have to be powerful, a strong athlete to compete in the Championship – even just training with some of these boys day-in, day-out has helped me improve my play, my decision making a lot.”

“I know a few of the Phoenix boys quite well through the All Whites, they’ve always been really welcoming. I’ve got to know guys like Dura, Mikey, Doyley really well on tour – they’re such good professionals and hopefully role models I can try and learn from.”

“I like to think of myself as quite an attacking player – I like to create chances as well as to score goals, I’m a good player running with the ball, I think I’m an exciting player – hopefully I can show some of this to Phoenix fans in coming months.”

Velaphi, with 100 A-League appearances to his name, will offer competition for goalkeepers Lewis Italiano and Keegan Smith as Phoenix chase a finals spot. 

Of Japanese and Zimbabwean descent, Velaphi returns from playing in Japan with newly promoted club Shonan Bellmare.

For Phoenix goalkeeping coach Fernando vaz Alves, Velaphi represents an experienced addition to an otherwise youthful ‘keeping roster.

“Tando is a good professional,” said vaz Alves, “very disciplined in his training and attitude and consistent with his performances.”

“We’ve seen in his appearances in the A-League across the years that he’s a good shot-stopper, can play out well with his feet and is comfortable dealing with crosses – Tando will be a great asset for Phoenix moving forward.”