Nike Academy competition winner and Futsal player Tom Rogic is heading to the Mariners
The Australian teen who beat intense competition around the world to gain a place at the Premier League academy in London is returning home to join the Mariners.
Tom Rogic, the Canberra futsal star who was one of eight wannabes chosen for the Nike Academy after a global competition, is expected to sign with the Central Coast this week and start training with Graham Arnold’s squad immediately.
After a successful stint at the EPL-run elite centre, Rogic had a deal lined up with Reading, the Championship side in Premier League contention where Socceroo goalkeeper Adam Federici is based. But work permit issues meant he was denied the requisite red tape to take up the offer, and with similar issues likely to arise with any putative deal in Europe, he has instead opted for a return to the A-League.
An attacking midfielder, whose favourite player is Cristiano Ronaldo but who models himself on the German playmaker Mesut Ozil, Rogic has the clear potential to replace Mustafa Amini when the Dortmund-bound Mariners playmaker leaves the Mariners at the end of the Asian Champions League.
Rogic has spent six months in the UK since being unveiled as the last of eight winners of the competition to find this year’s intake for the Academy.
More than 75,000 teenagers entered the competition, with 100 finalists selected for a week’s trial in London. At a dinner held at the end of the week, the eight successful names were read out – with Rogic forced to suffer the agony of waiting until last for confirmation he was in.
Rogic’s arrival, though in no sense like for like, at least gives Arnold consolation for the imminent departure of Matt Simon to the K-League.
The Central Coast-born forward will make his final appearance for the Mariners against Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night before flying out the next day.
Though the club have come under fire for selling a key member of the side that sits top of the table, it’s understood Simon would have left for nothing at the end of the season, a situation the financially stricken Mariners could not risk.
After attracting a season’s-best crowd of more than 15,000 for Saturday night’s 0-0 draw with Gold Coast, Mariners officials are confident of a similar figure for the Harry Kewell-inspired Victory’s visit, in a game being unofficially dubbed as a farewell for Simon.