Captain Durante confirms Phoenix departure

Wellington Phoenix have lost a club icon, with skipper Andrew Durante leaving the A-League outfit and set to join former coach Mark Rudan at Western United.

roy krishna of the phoenix makes a break during the a league match between the wellington phoenix and melbourne city fc at qbe stadium in auckland new zealand
ROY KRISHNA of the Phoenix makes a break during the A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City FC at QBE Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

The post-Mark Rudan dismantling of the Wellington Phoenix has gone to another level, with captain Andrew Durante announcing his departure after 11 seasons ahead of a likely move to Western United FC.

The most capped player in A-League history with 313 appearances, Durante's leadership has become part of the Phoenix fabric but is joining an exodus that began when Rudan announced his departure two months ago.

Rudan, who will be the inaugural coach of Western United, is already confirmed to have Phoenix players Filip Kurto and Max Burgess on his books for next season.

It appears centre back Durante, 37, will join them, spurning an offer to stay in Wellington where he had been offered an expanded off-field role.

In announcing his Phoenix departure on social media, Durante did nothing to quell reports he would join the Geelong-based expansion club.

"I have an opportunity to challenge myself in a new environment, to take on a new adventure with my wife and kids, closer to our family," Durante said.

"For me, life is about taking on new challenges, to test yourself in places that may make you uncomfortable, to experience new things and to grow as a person.

"Not everyone will agree with it, not everyone will see my view on things, but that's OK. That's football and that's life."

It marks the end of an era in Wellington, which Durante made his home after leaving the Newcastle Jets in 2008 and performed at a consistently high level for more than a decade.

His three daughters were all born in New Zealand and Durante proved his loyalty by turning out 24 times for the All Whites.

Phoenix officials couldn't be contacted after losing another battle at the negotiating table, having bid farewell last month to star forward and Johnny Warren Medal winner Roy Krishna.

On Tuesday morning they confirmed the other half of their potent 2018-19 strike force, former Socceroos forward David Williams, has exited after having bagged 11 goals.

New Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay faces a hefty rebuilding job, with four visa slots to be filled and an entire front line to replace.

He can at least call on experience at the back in Durante's absence, with veteran former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor having committed to next season and now boasting strong credentials to captain the Kiwi club.

Talay's first two signings were New Zealand international goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and Australian teenage left-back Walter Scott.


AAP