WELLINGTON Phoenix have made the stunning decision to release marquee attacker Kosta Barbarouses from the final year of his contract.
Having returned to Wellington on a two-year deal from Melbourne Victory, New Zealand international Barbarouses requested a release after enduring a difficult time off the field in his home city.
“It’s not a decision we have made lightly,” said Wellington general manager David Dome, “especially after the back end to the season that Kosta had.”
Confirmed: Every A-League in, out, off-contract player
“But it’s never been our policy as a club to stand in the way of a player’s happiness, or the happiness of those dear to him, and as much as we could have dug our heels in, the best thing for all parties concerned is an amicable termination.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose a player of Kosta’s pedigree – he’s exactly the type of character we want to attract to this football club. But every door closing is a door opening and we remain confident the squad we are currently assembling will have Wellington very much in the mix for finals football.”
Barbarouses was one of the Phoenix’s shining lights in a difficult season which saw a host of big name players’ families affect by the November earthquake in Wellington and coach Ernie Merrick departing early in the campaigh.
Despite this, the 27 year old scored five goals in his 25 appearances in his second stint with the club and Barbarouses admitted it was a hard decision.
“Wellington Phoenix gave me my first start in professional football’, said Barbarouses, “there are so many people at this club that I am especially grateful to, and I guess that’s something that’s made this decision a lot harder.”
“People forget sometimes that there are more factors involved than just football. Behind every player are a lot of people making sacrifices – I’ve been fortunate to enjoy tremendous support, so sometimes you have to think about others and consider their needs.
“I came home wanting to win a championship for Wellington and New Zealand but obviously that hasn’t happened. It’s frustrating it hasn’t all come together for me at this time, but you never know what’s round the corner in football – maybe under better circumstances we still can.”
Barbarouses follows Roly Bonevacia, Shane Smeltz, Jacob Tratt, Ben Liftin, Glen Moss and Lewis Italiano in leaving Wellington.