The Newcastle Jets have signed former Johnny Warren Medal winner Joel Griffiths for the remainder of the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season.
The former Jet returns to Newcastle after spending the past five seasons plying his trade in China, as well as a short spell at Sydney FC.
Griffiths earned legend status in Newcastle after winning the A-League’s Golden Boot award and the Johnny Warren Medal during the Jets’ 2007/08 Championship winning season.
In total, Griffiths made 60 Hyundai A-League appearances for the Jets, scoring 28 goals in three seasons at the Club.
The former Socceroos striker said a big factor in his decision to return to Newcastle was his admiration for the Club and its fans.
“It was more about love over money, that was the biggest thing,” Griffiths said.
“There were definitely offers from other Clubs involving much, much more money, but I’ve always wanted to come back to where it all began and I’ve been going to bed dreaming about this move.
“I just followed my heart this time. Most of my career I’ve been following my head, especially when I left the Jets before, but this decision was all about my heart.
“I’m really happy with how everything has panned out and I’m very excited to play in Newcastle again.”
Griffiths said he was looking forward to playing in front of the Club’s Members and supporters once again.
“It will probably be a little bit emotional for me,” Griffiths said.
“Newcastle for me is one of those Clubs where I can really start enjoying myself again.
“I definitely feel like I do play with my heart on my sleeve at this Club, more so than any other Club I’ve been at.
“There’s a big challenge ahead, but I’m really looking forward to that.
“Once I put that Newcastle jersey on, it’s a different me, I can’t describe it.”
After helping the Jets secure Newcastle’s first ever national league title, Griffiths spent four years playing in the Chinese Super League for Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenhua, where he scored 34 goals from 94 appearances.
Griffiths then had a short stint at Sydney FC during the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League season where he scored three goals in eight matches, before returning to China with Qingdao Jonoon where he found the back of the net three times in seven appearances.
Newcastle Jets CEO Robbie Middleby said the Jets were extremely pleased to have secured Griffiths’ services for the remainder of the season.
“We’re delighted that Joel has decided to return to Newcastle to play with the Jets,” Middleby said.
“The people of Newcastle admire Joel for the role he has played in the Hunter region’s proud football history and it’s fantastic for our Members and supporters to have him representing our Club once again.
“Joel is a natural goal scorer whose record speaks for itself and we’re really looking forward to seeing him take the field for the Jets once again.
"Adding Joel to our squad gives us some great options in attack with the likes of Heskey, Taggart, Bridges and Gibbs up front as well.
"Nathan Burns is returning to Korea but discussions are ongoing and we are very much still interested in bringing Nathan back as well as welcoming Joel."