Soccer: Phoenix sign former Player of the Year

Carlos Hernandez in action against the Phoenix in 2011. Photo / Getty Images
Carlos Hernandez in action against the Phoenix in 2011. Photo / Getty Images

The Wellington Phoenix have been searching for a creative midfielder who has the potential to turn them into title contenders for some time and hope they have secured one in Carlos Hernandez.

The former Melbourne Victory playmaker, who was winner of the Johnny Warren Medal for the A-League's best player in 2009-10, will join the Phoenix on a two-year deal when his contract with Indian I-League club Prayag United ends in June.

The Phoenix have signalled their intention to play a more attractive brand of football based on possession and Hernandez is the type of player who can help them achieve that. The influential midfielder scored 40 goals in 138 games for the Victory and his creative talents will be a welcome boost for the Phoenix who have historically struggled to break down opposition sides.

The 30-year-old is a player Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has chased for some time and Hernandez signalled his interest in moving to Wellington when contact was made last month.

"I've always had a good relationship with Carlos and from the first call I made to him our talks were positive,'' Herbert said. "Getting Carlos to Wellington is a massive signing for the Phoenix because everyone has seen the impact he made in the A-League. He is an exciting player who can make things very difficult for the opposition and is a dead-ball specialist.

"It was important that when a player of Carlos' ability became available that the club should try and get him here. It signals the direction the club is taking and Carlos fits perfect with our strategy. The fact that he has been A-League player of the year says it all as that is voted on by his peers.

"I'm delighted Carlos has decided to continue his career with the Phoenix.''

Herbert has a number of decisions to make around his playing squad, with as many as nine players off contract at the end of the season including Dani Sanchez, Alex Smith, Mark Paston, Leo Bertos, Tony Lochhead, Lucas Pantelis and Jimmy Downey.

- APNZ

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