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Aug 05, 2022   |  5:46PM AET

Socceroos custodian ‘back home’ on the Central Coast to stake claim for World Cup spot 

Socceroos custodian ‘back home’ on the Central Coast to stake claim for World Cup spot 

After a 12-year absence, Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has returned to the Central Coast to sign for the Mariners ahead of the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League season.

Vukovic, a two-time Player of the Season at the Mariners (2006-07, 2009-10), is back for a 13th ALM campaign, after departing the league in 2017 having featured for the Mariners, Wellington Phoenix, Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC. 

The 37-year-old departed Australia an ALM champion, at the conclusion of the 2016-17 campaign with Sydney FC. He went on to join KRC Genk in Belgium where he remained for four seasons before a move to Dutch Eredivisie side NEC Nijmegen in 2021. 

He returns to Gosford to replace former Mariners ‘keeper Mark Birighitti, who joined Scottish club Dundee United at the end of the 2021-22 ALM season.

Vukovic hopes his return to Australia will coincide with a run of games at the start of the 2022-23 ALM season to accelerate his push for a spot on the Socceroos’ plane headed toward the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar. 

“Very excited, very happy and I can’t wait to get back home,” Vukovic said.

“It’s just amazing. I still can’t believe it’s happening. It’s very exciting.

It’s the club where it all began for me, and it really does feel like I’m coming home. I just can’t wait to get back to Australia.

“There’s no guarantees in football. I have been part of the national team setup for quite some time, but I think by being able to play some games in the lead-up can only help my chances to go (to the World Cup. 

“It’s not going to be easy to get in there, but hoping I can hit the ground running with the boy in the blue and yellow, and hopefully I can show the selectors I should be there with the rest of the boys heading into the World Cup.

“My flights are booked, I’m going to be landing midweek next week so I’m looking to get back on the training paddock towards the end of next week, and looking forward to meeting everyone.”

Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery added: “Bringing Danny back to the club is a massive signing for us on and off the pitch. He is a top class goalkeeper and a great person who will add so much value and experience to this young squad.

“He has played at the highest level in Europe, is a real family man and is well known in our community. To bring him home to play in Australia and hopefully help him make selection for the World Cup at the end of the year would be a special thing.”

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