Young goalkeeper released

YOUNG Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley has been released from his contract to allow him to pursue regular playing opportunities.

Spoonley, 21, signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix in July last year on the back of a stellar performance for the New Zealand under-20 side at the 2007 World Cup in Toronto.

However, with first-choice Phoenix keeper Glen Moss and All Whites No 1 Mark Paston in the Wellington squad, Spoonley had only limited opportunities to prove himself during the team-s inaugural season in the Hyundai A-League.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the decision to release Spoonley with one year left on his contract had been a tough one, but was made with Spoonley-s best interests in mind.

“Jacob-s a great young talent but he needs to play and the club is very conscious of that.”

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert also had big raps on the young shot-stopper.

“From a personal point of view and from a national team coaching point of view, I think Jacob has a fantastic future ahead of him and playing regularly will allow him to develop his game and further enhance his prospects at international level.”

The club was working on Spoonley-s behalf to secure an overseas playing opportunity for him.

“Jacob-s future could well be at the Wellington Phoenix in two or three years- time and that-s something we-d love to see happen,” Herbert said. “But right now he-s got to be playing – it-s as simple as that.

“We-ve considered all the options and we feel that playing overseas would be best for him at this stage.”

Spoonley-s season with the Phoenix had helped to significantly improve the young keeper-s abilities, Herbert said.

“For any young player it-s a valuable experience to be involved at a professional club and Jacob has certainly grown as a player during his 12 months with the Phoenix. That significant development has certainly been borne out by his performances with the current New Zealand Olympic team.”