Sydney United defender Jacob Tratt received a belated birthday present today when he signed a one-year contract, with an option for a second year, with Wellington Phoenix after impressing Head Coach Ernie Merrick in the 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.
Tratt, who turned 22 three days ago, was invited to trial in the game and grabbed his chance with both hands.
The ambitious Tratt was “buzzing” yesterday as he wasted no time preparing himself for the move to Wellington on Monday.
"My sister Maddie was at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington and while she has moved back here, now she has plenty of friends over there and it didn’t take long for her to find accommodation for me," Tratt said with a laugh.
Tratt spent three years with Sydney FC, two in the youth team and one in the first team squad, though the latter turned sour when he contracted glandular fever.
"That sucked the life out of me but I am fine now and had a good season with Sydney United," he said.
Tratt said he thoroughly enjoyed the game against the Mariners and was impressed by the vibe amongst the Phoenix players.
"I am looking forward to being part of it because they were all trying to help me from the moment I arrived for the game."
Tratt believes he will do well at right back, though he can also play centre back.
"I want to become the best right-back in Australia and with the help of Ernie and the boys I feel I can achieve it."
Merrick said he was delighted to secure Tratt’s signature.
"The first thing that struck me when I met Jacob was that he is very ambitious," Merrick said.
"He knows exactly where he wants to go. He wants to play in the A-League and be one of the best players in it.
"We are very diligent in doing background checks on players we are keen on and felt that Jacob was unlucky to get glandular fever.
"He did the right thing and went down to the lower level with Sydney United where coach Mark Rudan did a good job with him.
"Jacob can play right-back or centre back, he has pace and is 190cm tall and is at an age where he is developing rapidly.
"On Saturday he played against one of the fastest players in the league in Connor Pain and matched him for pace.
"He knows how to defend and can get forward as well.
"Jacob will be a big asset for the club."