17 Apr 2024

Phoenix lose young star in record transfer

10:54 am on 17 April 2024
Macey Fraser of the New Zealand Football Ferns during game against Thailand, 2024.

Macey Fraser of the New Zealand Football Ferns during game against Thailand, 2024. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Wellington Phoenix are losing one of their brightest stars, with Macey Fraser signing up with the Utah Royals on a three-year pro contract.

The Royals are understood to have broken the women's A-League transfer record to sign Fraser, topping the previous best of about $100,000 when Bay FC signed Canadian Lysiaane Proulx in February.

Neither the Royals nor the Phoenix are disclosing Fraser's contract price, but it is a dream result for the 21-year-old attacking midfielder, who will play in the United States National Women's League, one of the world's foremost competitions.

Fraser only signed a three-year contract with the Phoenix in August after graduating from their academy. She had since had a breakout rookie season for the Nix, scoring three goals, but also made her mark internationally, playing five matches for the Football Ferns.

"It's an unreal opportunity. I came into the [Phoenix] academy not knowing if I even wanted to play football any more, so this season has been huge for me,'' Fraser said.

"I look back at the past season and just think 'wow, I've grown so much'.

"Coming into professional football is really eye-opening, but I've learnt how to be a professional on and off the field."

While the Phoenix were losing a talented player, they were thrilled for her and the likely exposure it will bring to the club.

"This is a red letter day for Macey and the club," Phoenix director of football Shaun Gill said.

"She's been one of the best talents in New Zealand for several years and it's great the Phoenix have been able to help her realise that potential.

"Macey was one of the first women to join the club's academy in 2021 and after one season with our A-League programme is about to join a team playing in one of the top leagues in the world."

Gill said the Phoenix needed more help to develop the women's game.

"It's fair to say we've almost single-handedly built the high performance pathway for football in New Zealand.

"For the women's game to continue to grow and in order to build on the success of last year's FIFA Women's World Cup there needs to be greater investment in high performance pathways that lead to fulltime pro contracts like Macey's."

Fraser would join the Utah Royals once she had secured a US work visa.

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