Phoenix men add experience to young squad

The Wellington Phoenix have signed an experienced centre back who was once on Sir Alex Ferguson’s books at Manchester United.

English defender Scott Wootton, 30, has agreed to join the Phoenix for the remainder of the Isuzu UTE A-League men’s season.

It is hoped he will arrive in Sydney before the transfer window opens in a week’s time.

Wootton has played more than 200 league matches in England across the Championship, League One and League Two and brings invaluable experience to a Wellington squad which has an average age of just 22.

“I’ll do everything I can to help the club win games,” Wootton said.

“From the research I’ve done and people I’ve spoken to the club has got a lot of talent and obviously it’s in a difficult position at the minute and not where it wants to be.

“I hope my experience can help that, improve the team and improve the results on the pitch.

“I’m a good talker, I’m a good communicator and first and foremost that’s how I’ll try and put my stamp on the team.

“Hopefully I can bring that bit of calmness and that experience at the back to help the team.”

Wootton played four matches for United as a 21-year-old in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at Old Trafford, playing alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney in the Champion League in 2012.

He then had a fruitful three seasons with Leeds United in the Championship, which coincided with All Whites striker Chris Wood arriving at Elland Road.

This is when Wootton first considered a move to the Phoenix.

“I actually spoke to Shaun [Gill] (Phoenix operations manager) when I was at Leeds United many, many years ago, but my first daughter was just one and the timing wasn’t quite right for that move.

“This time the timing is absolutely perfect. It’s the perfect step I feel in my career…and I couldn’t be happier to be joining the Phoenix at this moment.”

A ruptured ACL stalled the centre back’s career in 2016 and he has since played in League One for MK Dons, Plymouth Argyle and Wigan before joining Morecambe in England’s third division in August last year.

Wootton made 14 appearances for the Shrimps prior to Christmas and before Wellington approached him again about a move to the A-League.

“The chance to go and play in the A-League is one I just couldn’t turn down.

“I’ve got loads of friends who have played there, I know members of staff who have coached and managed over there and they all spoke so highly about the quality, the standard and the athleticism.

“When comparing it to England they say it’s about Championship level, which is great for me.

“As a player you always want to play to the highest levels and the highest standards you can.

“I want to challenge myself. I want to test myself. I feel like I’ve achieved quite a bit in England…and I feel this is the perfect challenge for me.”

Scott Wootton will wear the no. 4 shirt when he takes the pitch for the Wellington Phoenix.