Wellington Phoenix imports: ranked best to worst

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Since the start of the 2014/15 season, the Wellington Phoenix have had a total of sixteen imports. Some have been successes, and some have been Jeffrey Sarpong.

So, let’s see who’s been hot and who has flopped in Wellington.

15. Jeffrey Sarpong
The Dutch-born forward arrived in Wellington prior to the 2015/16 season with much hype and the expectation that he would replace the goal scoring nous of Nathan Burns, who netted 13 the season before. For all that hype? A big fat zero goals.

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14. Kenny Cunningham

Joining the Nix as one of Ernie Merrick’s first import signings, Cunningham had a decent first season for the Nix, scoring seven, but the following season found himself relegated to a bench role for the 2014/15 season. While Cunningham still chipped in when he could, scoring four that season, being only a bench player really isn’t good enough for an import.

13. Gui Finkler

After four successful years at the Melbourne Victory, there were high hopes for Finkler after his move across the ditch. Unfortunately, the Brazilian’s 18 months in Wellington were spent largely AWOL. He ditched the Nix halfway through the Darije disaster and now plays in Lithuania.

12. Marco Rossi

Marco Rossi’s place here is somewhat sad, given he had such a good debut season during the 2016/17 season. Partnering Andrew Durante at the back, Rossi formed a solid Phoenix defence. However, like so many things, Rossi struggled under Darjie Kalezic where his form utterly nose-dived 2017/18, a season where the Phoenix would concede 55 goals in 27 games.

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11. Alex Rodriguez

If I were to sum up Alex Rodriguez’s Phoenix’s career in a word, it would be “unremarkable.” A-Rod, as he was known by fans, got himself into the first team and became a mainstay of the Phoenix midfield for three seasons. A-Rod generally did what was expected of him, no more, and no less. Possibly harsh on him for being ranked so low, but it is what it is.

10. Michal Kopczyński

Signed on loan from Legia Warsaw for this season, Kopczyński has found it hard to nail down a place in Mark Rudan’s starting XI as he and Tom Doyle have been fighting it out for the third Centre Back slot all season. Again, it’s harsh to place Kopczyński so low down but an import should be playing week in, week out.

9. Matjia Ljujić

Brought in in January 2018 amid Darije Kalezic’s desperate attempts to save his ill-fated season, Ljujić wasn’t too bad in the big scheme of things. He added a bit of creativity to the squad and scored a couple of good goals but there was very little he could do to avert Darije’s disaster.

8. Andrija Kaluđerović

One of football’s true journeyman, Kaluđerović was also a victim of Wellington’s Darije disaster. Brought in to score the goals, Kaluđerović did what he could, being the top scorer for the Nix that season with nine goals. While not terrible in the big scheme of things, Kaluđerović could have probably been better had it not been Darije Kalezic.

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7. Goran Paracki

Brought in at the start of Darije Kalezic’s ill-fated reign as Nix manager, Paracki was signed as a defensive midfielder to shield the defence and that’s what he did. Although the Nix would concede 55 goals that season, it could have been so much worse without Paracki.

6. Mandi

The Spanish midfield maestro joined Wellington at the beginning of this season and has begun an integral member of the Nix’s midfield this season, forming a solid partnership with a reinvigorated Alex Rufer. Linking the defence and attack together brilliantly, the Nix owe a lot to their season so far to him.

5. Roly Bonevacia

Joining the Nix in the 2014-15 season, Bonevacia was one of the stand out performers for the Nix during that season and established himself as one of the key creative forces and stars for the Nix. He signed a new contract at the end of the 2014/15 season, claiming he wouldn’t leave until he had won the league. He left two seasons later for Western Sydney, having not won the league.

4. Steven Taylor

As mentioned earlier, during Darije’s reign the Phoenix conceded 55 goals in 27 matches, so it was of utmost importance for Mark Rudan to fix that when he arrived in Wellington. With the arrival of Taylor, an ex-Premier League defender who had spent 13 years at Newcastle United, Mark Rudan has a leader, and a very solid defender on his hands.

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3. Filip Kurto

It’s pre-2018/19 A-League, and the idea of having an import goalie is laughed at. Enter Filip Kurto. The Pole has become a dominating presence between the sticks and has almost certainly won the Nix at least four points alone this season. He’s right up there with Lawrence Thomas and Jamie Young as one of the best keepers in the league and has changed the perception of using an import spot on a goalie.

2. Albert Riera

Joining from New Zealand league side Auckland City, little was expected from the Spanish defensive midfielder when he arrived in Wellington in 2013/14 but Riera quickly became one of the best players in the league, winning the Phoenix’s player of the season and joining the A-League All-Stars when they played Juventus. After three years with the Nix, Riera called time on his professional career and left as one of Wellington’s most respected players.

1. Roy Krishna

Initially signed as an injury replacement player, the Fijian has become one of the leagues most feared attackers with his explosive pace and calmness in front of goal. Krishna etched his name into Phoenix history when he scored a goal on the 2nd of December 2018 during the 42nd minute to bring his all-time goals for the Nix to 34: making him the clubs all-time leading top scorer. A true legend, Krishna is undoubtedly the club’s best import signing of the past five years and the best signing full stop.

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And there you have it folks. The winners, Jeffrey Sarpong, and everyone in between. Do you disagree? Let us know!

(Cillian Sheridan does not feature on this list as we haven’t had enough time to judge him)

Featured image credit: Cameron McIntosh

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Dan Moskovitz
Dan Moskovitz
The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.

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