Luke Supyk has capped a rapid rise through the Wellington Phoenix academy by signing his first pro contract.
The young forward has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Phoenix, the first two years of which are on scholarship terms, just five months after making his debut for the club’s reserves.
Supyk, 17, scored four goals, including three in as many games, in this year’s Central League after breaking into Chris Greenacre’s side in April.
He had already made a name for himself at age-group level. Supyk was the top goal scorer at the OFC U-17 Championship in January to help New Zealand qualify for this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Indonesia.
And he has been on the radar of Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano for some time.
“I caught wind of who he was last season and watched Luke play for the academy’s younger age-group teams,” Italiano said.
“He wasn’t in the first group of academy players to train with us in pre-season, but after watching him play in the Central League I called him up to first team training.
“Luke has impressed me in every game he’s played and in every training session he’s been involved in.
“He’s an exciting prospect and has very good instincts. He’s quick to identify where the space is and make the right run, and technically he’s a very good player.
“He’s a very intelligent footballer for his age. I think he has all the attributes to become a flourishing first team squad member.”
Italiano believes Supyk is versatile enough to play in any of the front four positions and expects him to push for a place in the starting XI.
“Everyone has the potential to start. I haven’t even come close to deciding who’s going to start the first game of the season against Wanderers.
“Anyone that signs and all the boys from the academy that are registered with us are all eligible to start.
“It’s an old adage, but if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Whether he’s 16, whether he’s 19 or whether he’s 30 I’ll assess him in the same way.”
Luke Supyk has already made his first team debut for the Phoenix, having come off the bench late in the second-half of the round of 16 Australia Cup match against Melbourne City in August.
“Coming up through the academy it’s always been a dream to play for the Wellington Phoenix first team, and now it’s actually happening I’m buzzing,” Supyk said.
“I’ve always believed in myself that I can make the step up and I feel like I’m ready.
“I want to thank all of the coaches who have coached me up until this point at both the academy and back in Christchurch.
“I also want to thank Chiefy and the first team staff for putting trust in me so early in my football career. It’s now up to me to repay that faith.”
Supyk joined the Phoenix academy in 2021, following in the footsteps of his older brother Adam, after playing his junior football at Waimakariri United and Nomads United in Canterbury.
His dad was with him when Phoenix director of football Shaun Gill called to offer him a contract.
“I just burst out smiling and told my dad as soon as I got off the call.
“We hugged then immediately phoned my mum to let her know. It was such a special moment for the family.
“My parents and Adam are super proud of me and happy for me because they know how much hard work I’ve put in.”
Supyk has recently been in Japan with the New Zealand U-17 team preparing for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in November.
“It’s going to be a busy time but the more football I play as a young player the better. I’m hoping to secure selection in the New Zealand team.
“I’m trying to get involved as much as I can with the Phoenix in the pre-season so if I travel to Indonesia it’ll be a lot easier to fit back in when I come back.”
He’s also juggling his fledgling football career with his year 13 commitments at St Patrick’s College Silverstream.
“It’s been quite hard, but I’ve been managing.
“The teachers and staff at school have been very understanding and they’ve been passing on the work to me afterwards.”
Luke Supyk is the men’s 19th and final signing ahead of the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season, which kicks-off in three and a half weeks.
Supyk will wear the no. 23 shirt for the Phoenix.