23 May 2024

Barbarouses sticks with Phoenix for another season

11:52 am on 23 May 2024
Kosta Barbarouses of the Wellington Phoenix.

Kosta Barbarouses of the Wellington Phoenix. Photo: Fiona Goodall

Phoenix striker Kosta Barbarouses has rejected offers from other A-League clubs to re-sign with the Wellington club for next season.

The All Whites forward is now fourth on the all-time list of A-League men's goal scorers after becoming just the eighth player to reach the 300-game milestone.

Barbarouses scored 13 goals in the club's run to the semi-finals.

"It's a season to be proud of individually and as a team. Obviously we had our best ever year as a club and it's probably no surprise after the season we had there was a fair bit of interest in me.

"I weighed up everything and decided Wellington is by far the best place for me to be.

"I've still got big aspirations to do something special here and to play at a good level heading into the 2026 World Cup. That's a big goal for me."

Barbarouses, 34, also feels he has unfinished business with the Phoenix.

"We were millimetres, seconds, minutes away from a grand final and we want to keep building on that ... we've kept a big core of the squad together already, which is great stability wise.

"I don't want to kid myself when I don't think I'm there and probably wouldn't keep playing if I didn't ... I've still got so much to offer and this season's obviously proven that so I'm not going to put a limit on myself."

Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano.

Wellington Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano. Photo: Masanori Udagawa/Photosport

Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano was pleased to keep hold of Barbarouses for at least one more season.

"Kosta really suits the way we play. We build towards him. You saw this season when he became the central nine, we had a really different dynamic and were really exciting to watch.

"On the park his numbers do all the talking, but what he does off the pitch when it comes to leadership and how he keeps a good vibe in the team, is also very, very important for us.

"He brings a lot of cohesion in the changing room. A lot of the young boys lean on him for advice and he's a calming influence.

"Kosta also looks after himself quite well and shows the young boys what it's like to be a good professional."

Italiano believes Barbarouses can keep performing in the A-League, despite the competition trending towards younger players.

"Age is not something I've taken into consideration. For me it's about his output.

"He's outperformed so many young guys this season it's beyond what anyone else thought he could do at that age.

"It's more about how fresh he is in the mind and how he applies himself.

"One more year here with a possibility of another year will get him to the 2026 World Cup. His goal is to get in that squad, and we want to support him to get there."

The Phoenix currently has 18 players contracted for the 2024-25 A-League season, with discussions continuing with other off-contract players.

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