Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante today agreed a new three-year contract, citing a great bunch of players, a top-class coach and a love for the club as his reasons for turning down offers from elsewhere.
Durante, 29, confirmed there had been interest from other clubs, including “one very tempting offer”, but said the Phoenix had always been his first choice.
The only thing that made him think twice about agreeing a new deal in Wellington was the fact that his Australian-based family wouldn-t get to see his almost three months old daughter Adalyn as much as they would like.
“Yeah, that was the one thing that made me stop and think,” Durante said.
“Her grandparents would love to see her more often, and in an ideal world Sarah, who has supported me 100 per cent throughout, would love to have Adalyn grow up with her nephews and nieces.
“But in the final analysis I have enjoyed my time here so much I thought why move and end up somewhere I wasn-t as happy.
“The group of players here are the best I-ve ever played with. Every day I enjoy going into work because I-ve never known a group like this.
“Ricki (Herbert) committing himself to the club for another four years also played a part in my decision.
“It is good for the club that he is staying because it provides stability.
“The big thing with Ricki is that he understands people; he knows that different players need handling in different ways.
“His door is always open and he listens to what players have to say which is important. If we feel a rest is needed at some point, or even that we think there should be a little more training, he takes it into consideration.
“I-ve been with him for four years now and I have played some of my best football in that time.”
Since being made captain Durante has grown in stature both on and off the field and though he never sought the captaincy it is a job he is now enjoying.
“You don-t suddenly become a captain overnight,” he said.
“It took me time but I have grown into it and I now enjoy the leadership role I have within the club.”
The new deal means that next year Durante could become available to play for New Zealand as he has never represented his native Australia. Is it something he would consider?
“It isn-t something I would push for, but at the same time I would never say no if I-ve not made the Australian team.
“It could be tricky having been born and bred in Aussie, but football has the tendency to send you on pathways you never imagined.
“When I first came to Wellington I never imagined I would be here four years later, let alone committing myself to another three years!”
Herbert said he was delighted Durante had committed himself to the club for that length of time.
“Since joining us in year two Dura has been influential within the club both on and off the field,” Herbert said.
“Giving him the new deal also show-s the club-s intention to build for the future by retaining such an influential player.”
One person who will be delighted to hear Durante has re-signed is Ben Sigmund who has formed arguably the A-League-s best central defensive partnership with his skipper.
The feeling is mutual with Durante paying tribute to Sigmund.
“Siggy is fantastic. I love playing with him,” he said.
“He gives 100 per cent every game. It took us a little while to gel as a partnership but I think we-ve nailed it over the last couple of years.”