New Zealand’s most decorated A-League player is re-joining the Wellington Phoenix.
Four-time A-League champion Kosta Barbarouses is returning to his hometown club on a two-year deal for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.
Barbarouses, 32, started his professional career at the Phoenix in 2008 and has gone on to play 270 A-League matches, winning titles with Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory (twice) and Sydney FC.
Now the All Whites forward wants to bring a trophy home to Wellington.
“That’s a big career-long dream of mine,” Barbarouses said. “I’d love to do it.
“We came close when I was a kid the first time around but, given I didn’t play too much, I didn’t feel too much a part of that. I’d love to be as involved as I will be over the next couple of years and bring a title home.
“We’ve got a great chance and I think the boys have grown a lot over the last couple of years. What they’ve sacrificed and been through I think it’s going to hold us in good stead.
“I’ve got no doubt we’re going to work hard to achieve that and if we can do it, I will be fulfilled career-wise.”
Barbarouses says everything about moving to Wellington appeals to him and his young family.
“I’m really excited about getting the chance to work with Uffy (head coach Ufuk Talay), who has done a tremendous job with the Phoenix squad the last few years.
“And I’m looking forward to working with a good mix of Kiwi boys; a lot of great young players coming through, and a few of the older boys who have really established themselves over the last couple of years.
“I’ve also had two young kids in that time and my family has only met my oldest daughter once, just before lockdown, so to be able to spend that quality time with them over the next couple of years was a big factor as well.”
Ufuk Talay believes Barbarouses’ “championship-winning experience” will be invaluable.
“Kosta is another experienced player that we’re adding to the team, which is very important for us,” Talay said. “It’s something we’ve lacked.
“It’s very important to have players that have experience winning titles, lived it, and know what it takes to get to that point.
“I think he’ll be very valuable in that sense for our younger players.”
Barbarouses is also a proven goal scorer. He sits sixth on the all-time A-League list with 80 goals.
“He’s done that despite playing most of his career as a winger. Hopefully he can bring that to us and continue his scoring run,” Talay said.
“He’s got speed, flair and goalscoring attributes which will hopefully help the team as well.”
Kosta Barbarouses spent his first two A-League seasons in Wellington before heading to Brisbane, where he scored 12 goals to help the Roar lift the 2011 title.
After two seasons in Europe he returned to Australia and joined the Melbourne Victory. Barbarouses scored in the Victory’s 3-0 grand final win over Sydney FC in 2015.
He spent the 2016/17 season with the Phoenix before returning to the Victory, where he scored 28 goals over the next two years, including the match-winner against the Newcastle Jets in the 2018 A-League title decider.
Barbarouses has played for Sydney FC for the past three years and started for the Sky Blues in the 2020 and 2021 grand finals.
He has also amassed 52 caps for the All Whites since making his debut in 2008.
Kosta Barbarouses will assemble with the squad early next month for the start of pre-season training.
He will wear the no. 7 shirt for the Phoenix.