Danny Vukovic, Sydney FC’s superstar goalkeeper, has sealed a transfer to an unnamed European club. The transfer itself has caught fans unawares, in a move that no doubt boosts Vukovic’s chances of playing for Australia in a World Cup year.
While Sydney refrained from mentioning Vukovic’s future club, it has been widely reported as Belgian club KRC Genk. His Socceroos teammate, Mat Ryan, spent the back end of the 2016/17 season on loan at the club (from Valencia CF) before sealing a transfer himself to newly-promoted Brighton in the English Premier League.
Vukovic had previously been in Europe without ever actually playing a game. He signed with Turkish club Konyaspor in 2010 but his contract was abruptly terminated six weeks after signing, having never played a game.
KRC Genk provides Vukovic the opportunity he’s long desired and while Sydney FC preferred him to stay, they also understood his desire to compete in Europe. At 32, most thought a European adventure had come and gone for Vukovic, who will complete his transfer at the end of the Confederations Cup.
For Vukovic, it’s a great reward for what has been undoubtedly been his career-best season.
“It has been an amazing 12 months for me and my family, a year I will always remember, and I would like to thank the Members and everyone at the club for an unforgettable experience,” said Vukovic.
“It is something I could not have foreseen and I would like to thank Sydney FC, the board of directors and Graham Arnold for their kindness, understanding and support in allowing me to make this move. I am very proud at what we have achieved and with the fantastic squad Arnie has assembled; I believe the club will continue to be successful in the years ahead.”
The rumour mill suggests that Vukovic’s transfer will be around the $1 million mark. It’s an impressive figure for a player who only 18 months ago was out of form and out of sorts because of health issues with his son.
“I am very fortunate to have had the best season of my career since joining Sydney FC,” said Vukovic.
“The support we have been given by everyone has been phenomenal and it is something that we as a family will hold dear to our hearts for the rest of our lives. I’m very sad to leave but to have such an unbelievable opportunity so late in my career is something that I just couldn’t turn down.”
— Tony Pignata (@tpignata9) June 21, 2017
Sydney FC Head Coach Graham Arnold had nothing but praise for a player he also coached at Central Coast Mariners.
“Danny was superb last season and it’s no secret how highly I regard him as a player and as a person,” said Arnold. “No one at Sydney FC wants Danny to go and we are naturally devastated to lose him but this is a life changing opportunity for him, his wife Kristy and his beautiful son Harley. It’s the kind of challenge faced by Australian clubs and we cannot stand in his way.
“I’m very proud of Danny and would like to thank him for his professionalism since he joined Sydney FC and for the fabulous service he gave us. He will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of Sydney FC Members.”
While he was at Melbourne Victory, Vukovic saw his form drop significantly in 2015/16. It got to the point that by the time the season finished, he wasn’t in the match-day squad. His son Harley required a liver transplant and understandably, football was the least of his worries.
A compassionate request to leave Victory and return to Sydney was approved by Victory. This allowed Vukovic, his wife Kristy and their son to be on the doorstep of family members, thereby extending their support network in their time of need.
Vukovic was back in Sydney and both Sydney FC and Western Sydney needed a first choice goalkeeper. It was heavily rumoured that Western Sydney were the frontrunners for his signature. However a chance to be reunited with Arnold and goalkeeper coach John Crawley proved to good to refuse.
It proved to be the right move. Having a good support network in place allowed Vukovic to be able to concentrate on his work and find his best form.
The results were phenomenal.
As part of Sydney FC’s recording-obliterating 2016/17 A-League season, Vukovic:
While Sky Blue fans will no doubt be disappointed with his transfer, they can only thank him for his displays for Sydney FC. No doubt the transfer helps the Vukovic family to ensure the best treatment to aide Harley’s recovery, who successfully received the transplant he needed in recent months.