Gouburn Valley Suns have made their first major signing, with former Shepparton South player Frankie Lagana committing to the club.DAMEN FRANCIS AND MATTHEW GALEA March 10, 2014 11:50am
Shepparton soccer’s favourite son Frankie Lagana is Goulburn Valley Suns’ first major signing, topping a hit list of high-calibre recruits for the club’s inaugural National Premier Leagues campaign.
Lagana, 29, has committed to the new club, which will see him playing in his home town for the first time in 12 years.
The former Shepparton South product was joined at training at McEwen Reserve on Thursday night by ex-A-League players Naum Sekulovski and Kristian Sarkies and Melbourne Heart National Youth League trio Stipo Andrijasevic, Ersin Kaya and Hernan Espindola.
Sarkies, Andrijasevic and Espindola all committed to the club yesterday after the club’s first hit out, a 2-1 loss to FC Bendigo.
Sekulovski has also agreed to play for the Suns.
The quintet joins Craig Carley and Nick Kalafatis as the first to commit to the fledgling club, giving it a tremendous platform of players to build on.
Lagana, an established Victorian Premier League player at Melbourne Knights and Oakleigh Cannons who also had a stint at Scottish First Division club Airdrie United, had initially joined Green Gully Cavaliers as a fitness and assistant coach, before pledging his allegiance to the Suns.
‘‘When I heard they got issued a licence, I knew it would be good for the town,’’ Lagana said.
‘‘I wanted to be involved in some capacity, because it’s a great opportunity for the town.
‘‘Hopefully the town and the local clubs get behind it, because this can be a great feeding ground for the young talent coming through to have an opportunity to be seen.’’
Lagana said his own pathway to elite soccer might have been different had a club like the Suns existed as a youngster.
‘‘Myself, Vince Lia; there were a lot of players that had to travel to Melbourne to move on, so this gives us a great chance to breed these young kids and not lose them to Melbourne or other codes as soon as they’re 17,’’ Lagana said.
‘‘They can stay here and play their soccer (at a high level).’’
Suns adviser Melvyn Wilkes, who took control of the friendly against Bendigo, said the signing would be a huge boost as the club sought to establish itself in the community.
‘‘Having somebody of Frank’s calibre and character on the pitch is just phenomenal,’’ Wilkes said.
‘‘He brings leadership, quality — he’s a galvaniser and a talker, just like Sarkies, and that’s what we need.’’
‘‘That’s the sort of player we want to help bring through this next generation of kids.’’
The Suns will be Sarkies’ fourth club in as many seasons since Melbourne Heart released him.
The creative midfielder, 27, made more than 70 A-League appearances in seven seasons at Melbourne Victory, Adelaide United and the Heart.
Sarkies signed for Bulleen Lions in August, but with the club placed in the lower NPLV division he could be looking to join a team in the top tier.
Sekulovski, 31, played 107 times for Perth Glory, following a journeyed career in the National Soccer League.
Mainly a full-back, Sekulovski would likely play in the centre of defence and add some much-needed experience and class to the Suns’ backline.
Andrijasevic, 20, is a promising forward and Espindola a central midfielder.
Andrijasevic and Espindola have agreed to relocate to Shepparton to play with the club.
The Suns’ opening game is at McEwen Reserve on Saturday at 7.30
Little butterflies, and marvellous munchkins will flutter to the stage at Shepparton’s Eastbank Centre tonight and tomorrow for the Goulburn Valley Academy of Ballet concert.
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