x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Lucas Neill excited to be heading back to Sydney after Al Wasl exit

The former Pro league defender left the Zabeel Stadium last month and will use the move to his homeland to guarantee his national team future.

Former Al Wasl player Lucas Neill has signed with Sydney FC.
Former Al Wasl player Lucas Neill has signed with Sydney FC.

Lucas Neill, the former Al Wasl defender, says he is delighted to return home following the confirmation of his move to Sydney FC, the Australian A-League side.

The 34 year old was last month deemed surplus to requirements at the Zabeel Stadium, as Wasl opted to replace him with Ahmed Ibrahim, the Iraqi centre-back who impressed for his country during the recent Gulf Cup.

Neill's relocation to Australia was prompted by his own international aspirations, the national team captain determined to lead the Socceroos at next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

"I'm a Sydney boy and excited to be coming back to Australia to play club football in front of friends and family with Sydney FC," Neill said in a statement released by the club. "I worked with [coach] Frank [Farina] for many years in the Socceroos and look back on those times with good memories. It's great to have the chance to enjoy further success together at Sydney FC."

To sign for Sydney, Neill reportedly rejected an offer from Melbourne Heart and joins at the Allianz Stadium compatriot Brett Emerton and Alessandro Del Piero, the division's most high-profile recruit.

Neill, who also played for Pro League side Al Jazira, watched from the sidelines yesterday as Sydney defeated Adelaide United 2-1.

Only last week, with his future still uncertain, Australia coach Holger Osieck underlined the importance of Neill playing regularly before this summer's qualifiers against Japan, Jordan and Iraq. Neill is suspended for next month's match with Oman.

"It's not a very positive development," Osieck said. "First and foremost, it affects himself, but it's going to affect the national team as well.

"A player has to be in a regular playing rhythm, have a regular schedule and I hope he can resolve his situation pretty quickly. I would advise him to find a spot where he can play regularly. It doesn't matter where it is."

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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