Barbarouses flies Phoenix coop

EXCITING young striker Costa Barbarouses has opted to leave Wellington Phoenix FC in pursuit of regular game-time.

The 20-year-old Wellingtonian has signed a three-year deal with Brisbane Roar after three seasons with the New Zealand-based club.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the loss of Barbarouses was disappointing for the club but added that Phoenix officials backed the player-s rationale.

“We offered Costa a two-year deal to remain at the Phoenix but we understand that, given we have no youth league set-up, he wanted the opportunity to play more regular football.

“The youth league component is vital for us and for football in New Zealand, but it has proven difficult for us to develop a way in which we can give our young talent the opportunity to shine. Unless something changes soon, it will be very difficult for us at the Phoenix to bring young talent through and that would be a huge shame.

“We definitely need a youth league or reserves set-up and we-ve been working hard with New Zealand Football for quite some time to arrange something. If we can-t sort something out we will continue to lose young talent like Costa because there is no vital stepping stone in that professional career pathway.”

However, Pignata hoped Barbarouses would benefit from the shift to Brisbane.

“Whether he plays in the first team or not he-ll get regular football in the National Youth League, which is a very good competition. He-s a 20-year-old guy who wants to play, so the offer from the Roar was an attractive one for him.

“Costa was a foundation member of the club and has won a lot of fans in New Zealand. We wish him all the best for the future and we-ll continue to watch his development closely.”

Barbarouses played 21 matches for the Phoenix in three seasons and scored two goals. He has represented New Zealand at under-17 – where he captained his country at the 2007 World Cup tournament in Korea – under-20 and under-23 levels.

In November 2008 he made his senior debut for the All Whites against Fiji during the World Cup Qualifying process.