Pantelis Excited By New Challenge

When Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert came calling it didn’t take long for Lucas Pantelis to decide on making the move to Wellington.

When Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert came calling it didn-t take long for Lucas Pantelis to decide on making the move to Wellington.

Pantelis, 29, signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix at the weekend after six years with Adelaide United for whom he made 101 Hyundai A-League appearances.

When last season ended skipper Travis Dodd and Pantelis were the only ones remaining from the United originals, and when Dodd decided to move to Perth Glory for next season Pantelis was the last man standing.

That, along with the fact that he appeared to have fallen out of favour with United coach Rini Coolen, made him realise it was time for a change.

“I-ve seen them all come and go over the last six years - players, coaches, chief executives, physios . . . ,” Pantelis said.

“When Travis told me he was leaving for Perth I thought maybe it was time for me to look for a new challenge.

“The decision to leave Adelaide, where I was born and bred, was made easier by the fact I fell out of favour with Rini.

“I had come back from a knee injury and was feeling good but wasn-t getting picked in the team.

“I love my football and just want to play, not train all week and then watch from the bench or the stand.”

Phoenix fans won-t need reminding that Pantelis always seemed to play well against the Wellington club, and Pantelis joked that might stand him in good stead with his new coach.

“Yeh, I always seemed to do okay and score goals against the Phoenix. Perhaps that-s why Ricki came calling.

“But seriously, I am really excited about joining the Phoenix. My wife Carla is also looking forward to Wellington along with our 17-month-old son Marcus.

“While I will be there on June 7, Carla and Marcus aren-t coming till August so I will have chance to get everything ready for them.

“It has worked out well for us that the season isn-t starting till October so there is no need to rush things.”

Pantelis said Wellington had a similar feel to Adelaide and is confident he and his family will quickly settle down.

“It is a bit of a lifestyle change but it isn-t a big, sprawling city like Sydney or Melbourne and everything is pretty close.

“That was confirmed for me when I spoke to Dura [Phoenix captain Andrew Durante].

“He told me the players mainly live close to each other and that they spend a lot of time together away from the club.

“That is how it was at Adelaide. We would go out to lunch together after training and have a lot of fun.

“A lot of clubs are missing that closeness, especially in the bigger cities.

“I can-t wait to get over there and begin a new challenge.”