It took Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick just one training session and an appearance as a trialist against Auckland City on Saturday to realise he had found the player he was looking for in Sydney Olympic defender Troy Danaskos.
Danaskos, 23, appeared as a trialist for Western Sydney Wanderers against the Phoenix during a pre-season friendly and Merrick was impressed enough to ask him to fly to Wellington for a trial.
Arriving on Thursday last week, Danaskos trained with the team on Friday and played on Saturday, topping off an impressive all-round game with a goal in the 2-2 draw with Auckland City.
On Sunday Danaskos signed a one-year deal with the Wellington A-League club.
“I’ve been looking to build depth on the left and right side of the defence and Troy fitted the bill for the left side,” Merrick said.
“Chris (Greenacre) and I had done our homework on the player and knew he had been on the radar of several A-League clubs including Wanderers and Sydney.
“I decided to fly him out and from what I saw over the two days I’m glad I did because he acquitted himself well.”
Danaskos flew back to Sydney on Sunday, still coming to terms at how things had developed during his two days in New Zealand.
“Everything happened so fast,” Danaskos said.
“I felt comfortable from the time I arrived and was impressed with the way the players have taken me on board.
“I think the deal sealer was that Mr Merrick himself rang to invite me for a trial.
“I don’t think too many head coaches would do that, and he even picked me up from the airport!
“I enjoyed playing against Auckland because it is easier when you have good players around you.”
As for the goal he scored from just inside the penalty area Danaskos, who began as a left winger before moving back into defence, said with a smile that “it took a bit of a deflection, but I’ll take it!”
Danaskos will return to Wellington on Tuesday and resume training with the squad on Wednesday.