Phoenix release striker

STRIKER Royce Brownlie has been released by Wellington Phoenix FC with one year left on his two-year contract.

Despite coming to Wellington with big raps after a season with English League Two side Swindon Town, Brownlie struggled to cement a spot in the Phoenix starting lineup and made just eight appearances, mostly off the bench.

An omen of Brownlie-s season came in the Phoenix-s first ever game in the Hyundai A-League. The 28-year-old-s shot in the dying seconds of the match against champions Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium took a horrible bounce off the turf and struck the post with Victory goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos beaten. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.

Although disappointed to be leaving the Phoenix, Brownlie was philosophical about his stint with the club.

“I thought when I played I did well, but I never really got the chances that I wanted. It-s one of those things that happen in football and you-ve just got to deal with it.”

Brownlie will return to Brisbane with wife Stacey and their three young children. The former Queensland Roar player will pursue a career in the construction industry but has not ruled out a return to professional football.

For now, Brownlie-s focus is on his young family, which has played second-fiddle to his career as a professional footballer.

“If someone called me up and offered me the opportunity to play then definitely I-d jump at the chance. But right now, it-s about my family. If they-re happy then I-m happy, so I-ve got to look at the big picture. They-ve backed me 100 per cent and come with me all over the world and loved every minute of it. But now it-s my family-s turn to step into the limelight a bit.”

Brownlie said the Phoenix had a bright future.

“I think things have run really well. It-s a great club but, as with all new clubs, there are a few little things to iron out and they-ll be looking to a bigger and better season this time around. I think there-s a great opportunity for Wellington Phoenix to be a real force in the A-League.”

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said Brownlie had been a hard-working member of the team and was unlucky not to have had more opportunities go his way.

“If that shot against the Victory had gone in, who knows, it might have been a different story for him and his season – it would-ve given his confidence a huge boost. But that-s football and he was the first to put his hand up and say that things hadn-t gone as well as he had expected.

“Now he-s decided it-s time to put his family first. I really respect the guy for that.”