The Wellington Phoenix have announced their newest signing will make his debut in October, as he currently serves a suspension for discrimination.
New Zealand Under-20 midfielder Fin Conchie’s contract with the club has been upgraded from the academy to the professional A-League side. It comes a month after the 19-year-old was stood down for saying homophobic slurs in a Central League fixture.
At the time, Conchie admitted he verbally abused a Petone FC player with homophobic comments while playing for the Wellington Phoenix Academy.
The Phoenix announced at the time the teenager would be unable to play for the reserves for the foreseeable future, but continued to train.
Today, the club announced the three-year contract after head coach Giancarlo Italiano was impressed with Conchie when he trained with the first team for the past month.
“For me, technically [Conchie’s a] very good player, tidy on the ball... he’s got a good football brain,” Italiano said.
Conchie was a key member of the reserves side for the past two years and played every minute of New Zealand’s matches at this year’s Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Argentina.
“I think in our system, he’ll do quite well as a six and potentially even as a 10,” said Italiano.
“Fin provides the right sort of player that we’re looking for that fits in our system and I think that the ceiling for him is a lot higher than what he is showing at the moment.”
Conchie was equally excited about the opportunity. “It was always the goal... and I’m very happy to finally make it.”
“It’s been a long for four and a half years here in Wellington for me, away from home,” Conchie said.
“I always had confidence in myself that I could make it... I had to just be patient.
“It was just more about sticking to it really Even through times when I wasn’t, you know, maybe seeing a way into this team at times because they had such strong midfielders and I was still young.”
At the press conference, Conchie addressed the issue that happened just weeks earlier.
“It’s definitely a learning experience for me,” the 19-year-old said, admitting he has a lot of regret.
“It was a horrible moment for me and for everything that I put everyone through. So just trying to learn from it and make sure that nothing like this happens again.”
Italiano confirmed that prior to signing Conchie, staff took into consideration his actions.
“The most important thing with the staff is to make sure that one of our core values is making sure that we have good people involved... but we also put it into context, right?
“He’s a young kid, he got caught in a moment where he was very remorseful. He showed remorse straight after the game.
“We all make mistakes, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life and if I got punished, with the full severity, at every mistake, I wouldn’t be here.”
The coach said the senior players have already “put him into, put him into line” in terms of expectations and values.
“I think now you’ll see a change in him, which will be positive,” Italiano said.
“[I’m] confident that kind of behaviour won’t happen again.