The Wellington Phoenix have completed their roster for the 2020/21 A-League football season, signing former Premier League striker Tomer Hemed on a one-year deal.
The 33-year-old Israeli international helped Brighton win promotion to the Premier League for the 2017/18 season, where he played 16 games, scoring twice. His previous two seasons for Brighton in the English Championship saw Hemed net 28 goals in 81 games.
He has also scored 17 times in 37 international appearances for Israel and spent the last two seasons back in the Championship with Queens Park Rangers and Charlton Athletic.
"At the end of last season, I wondered what might be the next step," said Hemed.
"I've done a lot in my career - I've played in La Liga, the Premier League and the Championship. I've chased a lot of dreams I had as a kid.
"We had other options but we were waiting for something special. For me as a player and for the family, we thought this would be the best move and we can't wait to start this adventure."
Hemed is a direct replacement for another former Premier League striker Gary Hooper, who played 21 games for the Phoenix last season, contributing eight goals. Hemed's signing brings the club's playing squad to 21 (of a maximum 23) and he joins Mexican Ulises Davila and Englishman David Ball as the side's international players.
"The style of my game is to give everything and help the team in any way I can," said Hemed.
"I want to give my team the confidence that I'm there to score goals for them. In my career, I've used my physicality and the Championship was very tough physically. Having played there, I know I can do it in any other league and compete with defenders. I don't know exactly what style of football I'll find in the A-League but I know with my quality and experience I will come there and do my best to help the team.
"Of course, my target is to score as much as I can, so I do everything I can to score, but sometimes to give the pass for a goal or to tackle someone to stop an opposition goal is helping the team as well."
Just as Davila was the first Mexican to play in the A-League, Hemed will be the first Israeli national to ply his trade down under.
"It's amazing to be the first one and hopefully not the last one; maybe I can open doors for other players," he said.
"For me and the country, it's something new and something we're all looking forward to. I'm sure the games will be on TV in Israel so Wellington will get a lot of new Israeli fans.
"There are also many Israeli and Jewish people in Australia and New Zealand. Wherever I've played, I've had a good connection with the Israeli and Jewish communities."
Following two weeks of quarantine, Hemed will join the rest of the Phoenix squad in Wollongong, where they will be based for at least the start and perhaps all of the 2020/21 season which begins on December 27. His wife and three children will join him when he has become settled in the team's temporary home, south of Sydney.
Through his conversations with head coach Ufuk Talay, Hemed has gained a good understanding of the role he'll fill in the side.
"The main thing for me is knowing the manager wants me and from the first conversation I could tell he believes in me. I can see maybe I can be one of the main players in the team and make the difference between third last season and finishing two places higher.
"That's what I wanted - a team that sees me as the main man; the one who will be there to score the goals and take the team with me. I'm coming there with one target; to take the club as high as I can.
"I will do everything on and off the pitch to make the season amazing for the club."
Wellington Phoenix 2020/21 squad
Goalkeepers: Stefan Marinovic, Oli Sail
Defenders: Luke Devere, Louis Fenton, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, James McGarry, Liam McGing, Tim Payne
Midfielders: Cameron Devlin, Joshua Laws, Clayton Lewis, Reno Piscopo, Matt Ridenton, Alex Rufer, Sam Sutton
Strikers: David Ball, Ulises Davila, Tomer Hemed, Mirza Muratovic, Jaushua Sotirio, Ben Waine