Adelaide extend goalkeeper contracts
10:04 PM Wed 4th Nov, 2009 - Admin
Adelaide United FC’s strength between the posts has been boosted, with first choice goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and gifted young keeper Mark Birighitti both committing to the club, Galekovic signing a new four year deal while Birighitti has re-signed for a further two seasons.

Securing the duo is a massive coup for The Reds, with Galekovic the reigning Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year, arguably one of the best keepers in Australia, while Birighitti is seen as a future star of the game.

The length of the deal emphasises Galekovic’s value to the club since he signed from Melbourne Victory in October 2007, the keeper having played an integral role in The Reds’ momentous 2008/09 campaign, which involved reaching the AFC Champions League Final, participating in the illustrious FIFA Club World Cup and making the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.

Galekovic was set to come out of contract at the end of the current Hyundai A-League season, his services sure to have been high on the agenda of a number of clubs, but the 2008/09 Adelaide United Club Champion admits he wanted to continue his career in South Australia.

“Obviously a four year deal gives me a bit of security and lets Adelaide United know where they stand as well, so I’m happy to sign a long term deal and I think Adelaide United are to,” Galekovic said.

“Adelaide was my first preference, obviously there were a lot of plus sides to go back to Melbourne but in the end, Adelaide has treated me well and I’d like to pretty much finish my career up in Adelaide if I don’t go overseas.”

The 28 year old has not ruled out the possibility of a move overseas in the future, however for now he is more than happy to continue making saves for Adelaide United.

“It is not something I’m pushing to do but if offers do come from overseas, any player would have to look at it. But in saying that, if I’m going to play in Australia, I want to finish my career off in Adelaide, because it has been a great club, and a great club to me, so I’d just like to repay that faith to them,” Galekovic said.

“When you’re playing regular football you start enjoying your football more, and I’m pretty much at my peak as a goalkeeper, so I’m happy to give my best to Adelaide United while I’m at my peak.”

Galekovic’s rise from a back up keeper for Melbourne Victory to being in the mix of Qantas Socceroos Coach Pim Verbeek’s squad, where he was called into national camp just a few weeks ago, has been a testament to his exceptional work ethic and attitude to his trade, but the quietly spoken reserved figure off the field attributes his success to feeling at home with Adelaide United.

“I think the whole club in general. The players have been fantastic, the coaching staff and in particular Peter Blazincic, he’s probably one of the best keeper coaches going around in Australia, he’s helped me a lot, including the whole coaching staff to Aurelio Vidmar to everyone off the field, everyone has really made me feel welcome.”

Galekovic has singled out the Asian Champions League as a big highlight so far with his time at the Reds.

“Definitely the ACL. From the Group Stages to the Quarters and through to the Final, every game was like winning something big, from the last Group Stage match to reaching the Final, that is something I’ll always remember.”

Complementing Galekovic’s re-signing is young goalkeeping prodigy Mark Birighitti has also extended his contract with United, the talented 18 year old agreeing on a two year deal which will see him in Adelaide until the end of the Hyundai A-League 2011/12 season.

“I’m really happy to have signed for two more years. It’s a great club, the boys have great to me and I have a good relationship with the coaches and the boys, so it would be hard to go to another club even though I was coming out of contract,” Birighitti said.

Birighitti has represented the Qantas Young Socceroos (U/20s, U/19s) and Qantas Joeys (U/17s), and while he admits his ambitions are to one day ply his trade in Europe, he says he still has a lot to learn and improve on.

“Deep down I knew I wasn’t ready yet to make that big move overseas, so a few good seasons in the A-League playing regularly in the first team will do me good, and then I can make the move overseas when I know I’m ready and the time is right,” Birighitti said.

Birighitti has made two Hyundai A-League appearances to date, in which he kept a clean sheet in his debut against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, while his most noticeable appearance for United came in the second leg of last year’s AFC Champions League Final against Japanese powerhouse club Gamba Osaka.

Birighitti is currently in Indonesia with the Qantas Young Socceroos competing in the AFC U-19 Championship 2010 Qualifiers.
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