'I'm ready to come back!' - Fan favourite Nathan Burns re-joins Phoenix on two-year deal

The Wellington Phoenix are turning to a former fan favourite to try and turn their horrid A-League season around after announcing today they had signed Socceroo Nathan Burns once again on a two-year deal.

Burns had multiple A-League clubs pursuing his signature but the Wellington club managed to get it on the dotted line - an action general manager David Dome shows the club's intentions.

"We're absolutely delighted to have Nathan back," Dome said.

"He's a player with a top, top pedigree, a tremendous work ethic and ambition to succeed and he's somebody that's synonymous with some of the best times we've seen at this club.

"We're not accepting our current position on the table, we haven't given up on this season. We've gone through a major rebuild of our footballing department and it's so positive to see that quality players still want to buy-in into what we're doing."

Burns originally joined the Phoenix for the 2014-15 season after brief stints with Adelaide United and the Newcastle Jets.

The move was a success - Burns top-scored for the club with thirteen goals, guiding Wellington to a fourth finals appearance while winning the Johnny Warren medal for the league's best player.

However, Burns soon departed for Japanese football, transferring to the J-League to play for FC Tokyo and Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

The latest venture didn't quite go to plan though - the magical form he found with the Phoenix disappeared and he managed only three goals in 26 appearances.

"I've had some very positive experiences overseas, but I'm ready to come back," Burns said.

"When I was in Wellington I was playing really well, it was probably the highlight of my career, I had good players around me, guys like Roy and Mikey who are still here, and as soon as I landed again I felt happy to be in the city, it feels like home.

“With the [January window] opening I've had plenty of offers from A-League and around Asia but when I heard Phoenix were keen that was my first choice."

The next home game Burns could feature in would be against the Melbourne Victory on January 10.

Wellington Phoenix Nathan Burns in action


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Wellington Phoenix pursuing signature of another former EPL star - report

Wellington Phoenix are hoping to use the A-League's marquee fund to help mount a bid for former Inter Milan and Newcastle United star Obafemi Martins.

AAP understands the Phoenix have received the green light from Football Federation Australia to pursue Martins, who is currently contracted to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

It comes after Wellington's previous attempt at signing Michael Essien fell flat, but they remain firmly in the market for a big-name recruit at the right price.

Martins, 33, could fit the bill - although discussions between the club and his agent are believed to be at an embryonic stage.

The Nigerian international striker spent five seasons in the Italy's Serie A with Inter and three in the Premier League with Newcastle, while he also represented his country at the 2010 World Cup.

Martins might no longer boast the same electric pace he once had but recent statistics suggest he is still a potent goalscoring threat.

Martins scored 40 goals in 72 Major League Soccer appearances for Seattle Sounders, then moved to China, where he has netted 19 goals in 40 games.

He's been on the outer with Shenhua since tearing his hamstring in April and is keen to resume playing.

FFA has categorised Martins as a 'class B' marquee player, meaning they would contribute only a modest sum from the remainder of their $3 million marquee fund should the Phoenix agree to terms with him.

It's understood any deal would still come inside Wellington's salary cap.

The Phoenix face an uncertain future, with their A-League licence due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season and hopes of an extension hinging on improved off-field 'metrics' like attendances and TV ratings.

Their sudden interest in marquee players like Essien and Martins suggests they will not go down without a fight.

Obafemi Martins celebrates a goal for Newcastle United with Steven Taylor.
Obafemi Martins celebrates a goal for Newcastle United with Steven Taylor. Source: Getty


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TVNZ FC: Neymar dives again, as the international break takes a new twist

Club football may currently be at a standstill thanks to the international break, but the same can't be said for everyone at TVNZ FC.

This week, Jack Tame is joined by the trio of Jack Mabire, Victor Waters and Simon Plumb, looking at the big issues in the world of football.

Following his World Cup theatrics, Neymar is up to his old tricks once again, caught diving in Brazil's latest friendly against the USA.

The boys look at the new UEFA Nations League, looking to put an end to meaningless friendlies once and for all.

And finally, the Wellington Phoenix have been linked to signing one of the world's best midfielders - about 10 years too late.

Club football is on a break, but we're not as Jack Tame and the boys discuss this week's issues. Source: 1 NEWS


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Maradona unveiled as coach of struggling Mexican team based in hometown of notorious drug cartel

Diego Maradona today insisted he had left his off-the-pitch issues behind.

The Argentine football legend spoke as he was formally introduced as the new coach of Mexican second-tier club Dorados de Sinaloa.

The 57-year-old has publicly struggled in the past with alcohol and drug addiction.

But he told reporters he would take his new job seriously, and hadn't come to Mexico for a holiday.

His new club is located in Culiacan, considered the heart of the Sinaloa cartel, one of Mexico's most powerful drug smuggling gangs.

Some critics have described Maradona's new role as a publicity stunt for the team and a last-ditch effort to resurrect his career.

Maradona will reportedly earn $US150,000 a month to coach players who have complained of missed paychecks.

A Dorados club representative could not be reached to confirm or deny the salary or missed payments.

The Argentine football legend was formally introduced as the new coach of Mexican second-tier club Dorados de Sinaloa. Source: Associated Press


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Usain Bolt granted leave from Central Coast Mariners duty

Usain Bolt's fledgling football career at the Central Coast Mariners is taking a quick break, with the sporting superstar to leave the country for a week.

In a statement, the A-League club said Bolt would jet out to an unnamed location tomorrow.

"After completing his first three weeks of training with the Central Coast Mariners, the club wishes to advise that Usain Bolt will be abroad from Sunday 9 September to Sunday 16 September for a previously planned commitment," the Mariners said in a statement.

"This commitment was agreed between Usain Bolt and the Central Coast Mariners before his training period commenced with the club."

Bolt made his debut for the club when he came on in the closing stages of a trial match against a Central Coast select side earlier this month.

He played just over 20 minutes in the 6-1 win.

"I think the big fellow did OK," Mariners coach Mike Mulvey said of Bolt after that game.

"He was on a hiding to nothing a little bit nervous, but I'm quite happy with him.'

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt Source: Photosport


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