Football 3 years ago

Phoenix sign ex-Dutch youth international

  • Phoenix sign ex-Dutch youth international

Wellington Phoenix have signed former Dutch youth international and Ajax product Jeffrey Sarpong.

The 27-year-old attacking midfielder, a Dutch international at under-17 and under-21 level, has played for Dutch Eredivisie side NAC Breda for the past two seasons.

He joined Dutch giants Ajax as a seven-year-old, playing in the youth set-up with Phoenix midfielder Roly Bonevacia, and went on to make 20 appearances for the side before moving to Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad in 2010.

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He moved back to the Dutch league after an injury-plagued three years to link up with Breda before being released after 58 appearances.

He trialled with English Championship side Blackburn Rovers before joining the Phoenix.

"I had a few options in Europe from good teams in good leagues," Sarpong said.

"I had to think hard about what was best for me at this stage in my career.

"It wasn't easy but the way the manager (Ernie Merrick) spoke swayed me."

Merrick has been hunting for a replacement for prolific striker Nathan Burns, whose 13 goals in 24 games last season for Wellington helped earn him a contract at FC Tokyo.

"It has taken a while but it can take a while when you are after better players," Merrick said.

"We had some tough competition but we persisted and in the end got our man."

Bonevacia's connection with Sarpong helped pave the way for the deal.

"I have had a lot of conversations with Roly because we are good friends and he told me about the league and what the Phoenix club was like," said Sarpong.

The length of the deal was not disclosed by the club.

Sarpong's signing means the Phoenix have filled all five import spots on their roster: Bonevacia, Spaniards Albert Riera and Alex Rodriguez and Fijian Roy Krishna.

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