Phoenix sign Serbian International striker


Darije Kalezic has landed his target man striker as Wellington Phoenix’s off-season squad rebuild nears completion.

Wellington Phoenix are delighted to have secured the signature of former Serbian International striker, Andrija Kaludjerović for the upcoming campaign.

A prolific goalscorer – with 108 goals in 236 games across his career – the thirty-year-old target man has played in Switzerland, China and Spain, and finished as the league’s top scorer in both Serbia and Lithuania.

A talented forward who came through the ranks at OFK Beograd alongside Aleksandar Kolarov and Branislav Ivanović, Kaludjerović was reunited with the former playing for Serbia at the Beijing Olympics and then both after a stellar season with Red Star Belgrade saw him make his full international bows.

That season prompted a seven-figure transfer to China but it was not just his goalscoring record that caught the attention of Darije Kalezić.

“Andrija is a striker with a great mentality,” said Kalezić. “He is a team player. A typical striker who is always looking to make goals, but also, a player who is able to play with his back to the goal of the opponent, keep the ball and play attractive combination football.”   

“He has great experience from playing football in a variety of different competitions. He also has a good sense of [the A-League] after playing here before, which gives him a good view of the strength of the league, his possibilities and our expectations.”

“Andrija terminated his contract in Thailand to join us. He really wants to be part of our team because he strongly believes in himself and our success.”

For Kaludjerović the prospect of playing a good standard of football was a major factor in returning to the A-League.

“In Lithuania I had a very good period, in six months I won the cup, the league, scored many goals. A good financial offer came [to go to Thailand] but to look back it was not a good choice for me.”

“Now when Wellington called me, I didn’t have any doubts. I was here before with Brisbane and I really liked the league – it’s not as technical as playing in Spain or Switzerland but ever year it is growing, getting better and better – I just want to play good football.”

“[Darije] he is expecting goals. He knows that I can do this, he has studied my game, knows what to expect so I hope to deliver.”

“My area is in the goalbox. This feeling for the goal, I was born with this and almost every club if I play, I score goals. But my game is not just to score goals, I have good cooperation with other players, it’s a nice feeling too to make the assist.”

“I played against Wellington once and I scored. Now I hope fans forgive me if I score next time for Wellington!”

Kaludjerović has arrived in New Zealand to meet the playing squad but will return to Serbia shortly for the birth of his third son. His wife and three children will then join him in Wellington.