The Wellington Phoenix are delighted to announce they have extended the contracts for both its Captain Steven Taylor, and Vice-Captain Alex Rufer.
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Taylor has signed for two additional years and Rufer for three; ensuring that both will be wearing Phoenix colours through to at least the 2021-22 Hyundai A-League season.
Coach Ufuk Talay says that both players bring important qualities and skill sets to the Phoenix.
”Taylor is a natural leader and a very influential player for us, he leads by example both on and off the field – he brings an abundance of experience to the club and obviously he’s an important player for us moving forward with the direction this club is heading.
”Rufer is a young talented player who has captaincy qualities as well; he had a great season last year and this season he’s been very good and influential for us – and he’s still a young player so it’s great to have him committed to a three-year deal with us.”
London-born Taylor first signed with the Phoenix in the 2018/19 Hyundai A-League season after a successful career overseas, most notably with Newcastle United. This season, his first as Captain, the 33-year-old Taylor has been one of the top defenders in the Hyundai A-League; recording a team-high 16 blocks to date and scoring a header versus Brisbane Roar in the Round 7 win at home.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Kiwi Rufer has played 55 matches for the Phoenix over his seven seasons, after first signing in 2013 as a 17-year-old. In addition to being an outstanding midfielder for the Phoenix during this time, Rufer also has seven All Whites call-ups on his resume – including recent friendlies against Lithuania and Ireland. He was named Vice-Captain of the Phoenix for the start of the 2019/20 season, and is currently first in interceptions (17) for the club.
Coach Ufuk Talay says that these re-signings help solidify the club for both now and the future.
”Obviously these are two very important, core players of the group – and maintaining our players creates consistency and builds the club for the future, which is vital.
It’s great that our players want to be here and help build towards something special; they have a lot of belief in what we’re trying to achieve, not just short-term but long-term as well.”
The two key signings of Rufer and Taylor now gives the Wellington Phoenix 11 players who are signed beyond the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, and Coach Talay says it was important for this to start happening now.
”The timing of this is very important for us; we need to build consistency and to know what direction we’re heading in – not just this season but long-term. It’s vital to have our core players signed long-term if we want the team to continue to win matches and be competitive.”