Wellington Phoenix Head Coach Ernie Merrick has made another foray into Australia’s National Premier Leagues to sign Gold Coast City attacking midfielder Ben Litfin.
Merrick has been searching for a goal-scoring midfielder and it seems he has found one in 21-year-old Litfin who netted 19 times in 20 games for Gold Coast City in the Queensland NPL.
“I had been hearing about Ben from South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor who has developed many A-League players over the years and is a good judge of young players,” Merrick said.
“Ben has had a good grounding with two years in Brisbane Roar’s youth team and I believe he went close to getting a professional contract with the club.”
Merrick has already signed Jacob Tratt, Adam Parkhouse and Ryan Lowry from the Australian Premier League teams and is acutely aware of the problems caused by the FFA not recognising FIFA international windows.
“First and foremost it has always been the club's intention to give young New Zealanders an opportunity to play professional football,” Merrick said.
“I will continue to take that approach but I need to find a balance between New Zealand Football’s demands for players in the international window when our Kiwi players are required for the All Whites and the need to field a competitive team.
“My first responsibility is the performance of the Phoenix in the Hyundai A-League and there is a tremendous amount of talent in Australia's NPL competitions.
Litfin was excited to land himself a one-year contract which includes a trigger for a second year.
“It is fantastic and I will be arriving in Wellington on Monday,” Litfin said.
“I have been close to getting in the A-League before when I had a two-year pro youth contract with the Roar.
“I believe I will be better off the second time around because when it didn’t go my way at the Roar I didn’t know how to handle it.
“This time I am better prepared and I loved the three days I spent at the Phoenix training and playing in a game.
“The Phoenix play exciting, attacking football and I love scoring goals so hopefully I will get a few for the Phoenix.”