Wellington Phoenix today confirmed the club has signed talented Spanish midfielder Dani Sanchez on a one-year contract.
Sanchez, 26, has been trialling with the Phoenix for the past two months though he spent much of that time sidelined with a thigh injury.
Since getting back to full fitness Sanchez has impressed head coach Ricki Herbert and played a leading role in the Phoenix fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Melbourne Heart in Shepparton 10 days ago, scoring his team’s opening goal.
“Dani is a good signing,” Herbert said.
“He will add strength and depth to the club, being a slightly different player from an attacking point of view to those we have in midfield at present.
“He will give us options when we need to change things during games.
“What has really impressed me is the willingness and determination Dani has shown in wanting to be a part of the Phoenix.
“His first few weeks with us weren’t productive because of injury, but he was determined to prove himself to be a Phoenix player and I am delighted to have him on board.”
Sanchez found himself on this side of the world after being released by Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the end of last season when invited to trial with Hyundai A-League side Gold Coast United.
United coach Miron Bleiberg was keen to sign the Spaniard but at that time had his full complement of overseas players, something that has changed in the last few weeks.
“I think someone from Gold Coast contacted the Phoenix to say they should perhaps have a look at me,” Sanchez said.
“I had other options, including in Sweden, Cyprus and Spain but since I was on this side of the world I wanted to come and trial in Wellington.
“From my first day here, and I played a game within a couple of hours of getting off the plane, I wanted to be a part of this club because the other players made me so welcome.”
His trial period started badly when he picked up an injury to his right quad that necessitated long hours of treatment.
“It was very boring training by myself and seeing the lads enjoying themselves in training,” Sanchez said.
“I have much to thank Wayne [Roberts, physiotherapist] for. Not only did he look after my rehabilitation but he, his wife Janine and little boy Jake accepted me into their home for a week.”
A big plus from that arrangement was Sanchez being able to converse in his native language with Roberts who picked up Spanish while in South America for eight months.
Despite that Sanchez came within a few hours of leaving Wellington and heading home to Spain.
“It was so frustrating not being able to train. I was feeling really miserable,” he said.
“I had decided to go home but then changed my mind. I told myself that I really wanted to be a Phoenix player and if you want something that badly you have to work for it.
“I asked the club if I could stay on. They agreed and now I am so pleased to have become a Phoenix player.”