Meet our new no. 9

The Wellington Phoenix have finalised the men’s squad for the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League season, with a sizeable signing.

The Phoenix have secured 1.92m striker Oskar Zawada on a two-year deal. He is the men’s fifth visa player and sixth and final off-season signing.

The former Poland youth international joins fellow new recruits Kosta Barbarouses, Bozhidar Kraev and Yan Sasse in a revamped Nix attacking line-up for the upcoming campaign.

Zawada, 26, will wear the no. 9 shirt for the men, with popular English forward David Ball deciding to move into the 10 jersey this season.

Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay says he will bring balance to their forward line.

“He’s a taller player that will give us extra height and presence in the box,” Talay said. “He’s big and strong. He can bring players into the game, and he scores goals.

“We were always looking for a player with those physical attributes, with a bit more presence within the box as we like to attack with our fullbacks and deliver balls into the box.

“He gives us an aerial threat and when we’re under pressure he’ll be able to hold the ball up and bring players into the game and we’ll be able to at times be a little bit more direct.”

Talay says Zawada is much more than just a target man.

“He’s quite mobile. He makes forward runs, he gets in behind defences and he’s aggressive with and without the ball as well.

“The way that we play and press I think he’ll be pretty influential.”

Oskar Zawada has played professionally in Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and South Korea over the past decade and was in talks with both German and Dutch clubs before being swayed by the Phoenix.

“I had a good long conversation with Ufuk Talay,” Zawada said. “Our meeting on zoom was very good.

“He showed me how he works with the players, what he expects from me and how he sees me with the team.

“He made me feel important and if I feel important then I know I will play well and will have the confidence to score goals.

“After this conversation I got a good feeling that it makes sense for me to move to Wellington to develop under his coaching.”

Zawada was a prolific goal scorer for VfL Wolfsburg’s youth teams but believes he has yet to reach his potential at the senior level.

“As a striker I think your best age is between 26 and 32/33 because you mature and your body is stronger.

“Every year I feel stronger on the pitch, but also more confident and mature in my positioning and movement.

“I think the best years are in front of me. If I stay healthy, and I will do everything to stay healthy, I think I have a good future in front of me because I’m professional, I work hard and want to develop as a player.”

After playing for five different clubs over the past two and a half seasons, Zawada and his wife are looking forward to settling down in Wellington and making the city home.

“I wanted to sign with a club for more than one year. A two-year contract means I can fully focus on the Phoenix and not have to think about my future.

“I have a feeling that this is going to be a place that I will be proud of and identify with.

“I have heard that life is beautiful in New Zealand and I am very happy about that, but I will not treat this transfer as a personal trip.

“I come here to this club mainly to develop as a footballer and score as many goals as possible for the Phoenix.”

Oskar Zawada will join up with his new Wellington Phoenix team-mates in Sydney tonight as the team prepares for Wednesday night’s Australia Cup quarter-final against Macarthur FC.