Football 3 years ago

How Leonardo was talked into A-League move

  • How Leonardo was talked into A-League move

He's shared a dressing room with Luis Suarez, Jaap Stam and Robin van Persie, but it was another couple of former teammates who convinced Newcastle's star import signing Leonardo to head to Australia.

After Netherlands-based Brazilian Leonardo was approached by new Jets coach Scott Miller, he sought advice from two friends already well familiar with the A-League - Romeo Castelen and Shinji Ono.

The 32-year-old has a solid history with Western Sydney Wanderers star Castelen and the franchise's much-loved former Japanese marquee Ono thanks to their shared time at Dutch giants Feyenoord during Leonardo's decade in the Dutch top flight.

You might also like

In 2002 he and Ono played together in the team that beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 to win the UEFA Cup, Leonardo coming on for then young winger Van Persie in the second half.

Since then the left-footed No.10's resume has received some imposing additions, with time at NAC Breda and then European powerhouse Ajax alongside Uruguayan star Suarez and Dutch legend Stam.

But he hasn't gained the same traction in more recent stints in Austria at Red Bull Salzburg, Hungarian club Ferencvarosi and with second-tier German outfit 1860 Munich.

After nearly a year away from the game, Leonardo was pondering his next move when Miller called looking for some star power to defibrillate his newly inherited Jets outfit struggling to recover from last season's wooden spoon and financial woes.

After one minute on the phone Leonardo knew he and Miller - and Australia's beaches - would be a good fit.

He just needed a second opinion on the A-League.

"Romeo and Shinji said if I will come, I will love it," Leonardo told AAP.

"They said there are not a lot of teams, but it was a good level.

"It's different from Europe, but everyone in Australia is positive."

The main issue for Leonardo is match fitness, but Miller says he is getting there and will only improve after the opening rounds.

Will he be the X-factor in a replenished team alongside fellow recruit, Serbian target man Milos Trifunovic?

"That's his decision, isn't it," Miller said.

"I brought him here on the back of his CV, and his potential. Now it's down to his mindset and his mentality and how he performs.

"It always comes down to attitude and discipline ... if Leonardo performs the way he can I think he'll upset some defensive lines and structures for sure."

0 0
please wait...