Young ‘keeper shows his love for the club by committing long-term

The Wellington Phoenix have kept hold of one of Aotearoa’s brightest footballing talents, signing Alex Paulsen to a multi-year contract extension.

The young goalkeeper, who was coming off contract at the end of the season, has re-signed with the Phoenix through until the end of the 2026-27 Isuzu UTE A- League.

After having to bide his time on the bench last season, Paulsen, 21, has seized the opportunity to start the first two matches of the men’s new campaign, which were just his fifth and sixth appearances in the A-League.

The Phoenix academy graduate was the man of the match in the men’s season opening draw against Western Sydney Wanderers, before saving a penalty to secure the team’s 2-1 win over Perth Glory last weekend.

“I’m very grateful and delighted to sign an extension with the Phoenix for three more years,” Paulsen said.

“It’s the club I grew up watching and to be given an opportunity to continue to represent the Nix gives me confidence, knowing that they trust my ability to help us achieve success together.

“I’m surrounded by good people here at the Phoenix, which is a true testament to the club’s culture, and I still feel I have more to give; more passion, more hunger and more desire to win.”

Paulsen grew up in Auckland and would have been an obvious target for the new expansion club, but didn’t entertain a move north.

“Wellington is my second home. I’ve been here for six years and I’ve really matured here.

“I feel the Wellington Phoenix have the best resources, the best facilities and overall the best people to help me push and strive to be the best goalkeeper and person that I can be.

“The Phoenix have invested in me since I was at the academy and I want to return the favour and ensure the club earns the respect it deserves.”

Alex Paulsen shakes hands with Giancarlo Italiano after signing a three-year contract extension with the Wellington Phoenix. Photo: Priyanka Rao/Wellington Phoenix.

The New Zealand age-group international has thanked head coach Giancarlo Italiano and goalkeeper coach Ruben Parker for the roles they have played in his development.

“The last two seasons when Chiefy was assistant coach I was able to really connect with him, get to know him and he was able to understand my personality and what makes me tick.

“Last season it was great to have Ruben come into the fold and identify some of my weaknesses, work on improving them and turn them into strengths.”

Italiano has hailed the significance of the three-year contract extension for the club and Paulsen.

“I think it’s very important for the Phoenix, given AP’s been at the club for a long period of time,” he said.

“He’s shown so much potential when he was younger and now we’re starting to see why so much time was invested in him. It’s important the club keeps building on that.

“I think he genuinely loves being at the club and he’s loyal because of the opportunity the club’s given him.

“After the last couple of rounds there are going to be plenty of people taking interest in him and there are going to be clubs after him, but he recognises where he got his first opportunity and where he’s going to thrive long-term.”