Barbarouses dumps Phoenix, joins Brisbane Roar

Last updated 12:26 12/02/2010

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Young New Zealand football international Costa Barbarouses has signed with the A-league club Brisbane Roar club for three years.

Brisbane announced the deal overnight and Barbarouses will join the Brisbane squad for pre-season training at the start of May.

Wellington-born striker Barbarouses, who will turn 20 this month, has spent the past two seasons with rival A-League club Wellington Phoenix.

Barbarouses said the prospect of linking with coach Ange Postecoglou's squad was an exciting one.

"It's a time in my career where I have to get out of the comfort zone and really give myself a challenge," Barbarouses said.

Postecoglou said he believed Barbarouses would be a perfect fit for the squad he is building.

"I think he fits in with the style of football we want to play," Postecoglou said.

"He's quick, exciting at an age where he really wants to break through and make a name for himself.

"We don't have his type of striker at the club, when you have a look at what we have with Reinaldo and Sergio (van Dijk), they are big strong strikers.

"Costa will give us that variety and we've already shown that if young players are good enough we'll play them."

Barbarouses said leaving his hometown club would be difficult, but the keen interest shown by the Roar to secure his services had persuaded him it was the right decision.

Despite limited game time this season, the young striker scored against Sydney in November with a volley over Clint Bolton and has two assists to his credit.

Barbarouses has represented New Zealand at under-17, where he captained his country at the 2007 World Cup tournament in Korea, under-20 and under-23 levels.

In November 2008 he made his senior debut for the All Whites against Fiji during the World Cup Qualifying process.

Barbarouses' flight highlights a major hurdle the Phoenix have in developing young New Zealanders without the presence of a reserve team.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the loss of Barbarouses was disappointing for the club but added that Phoenix officials backed the player's rationale.

"We offered Costa a two-year deal to remain at the Phoenix but we understand that, given we have no youth league set-up, he wanted the opportunity to play more regular football.

"The youth league component is vital for us and for football in New Zealand, but it has proven difficult for us to develop a way in which we can give our young talent the opportunity to shine," Pignata said.

"Unless something changes soon, it will be very difficult for us at the Phoenix to bring young talent through and that would be a huge shame."

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Pignata said if the club and New Zealand Football could not something out they would continue to lose young talent like Barbarouses because there was no vital stepping stone in that professional career pathway.

He hoped Barbarouses would benefit from the shift to Brisbane.

"Whether he plays in the first team or not he'll get regular football in the National Youth League, which is a very good competition.

"Costa was a foundation member of the club and has won a lot of fans in New Zealand," Pignata said.

"We wish him all the best for the future and we'll continue to watch his development closely."

- NZPA

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