With some help from the FFA, Australia international captain Lucas Neill has returned to his hometown to sign for Sydney FC, rejecting the advances of Melbourne Heart
|By GOAL AUSTRALIA
Sydney FC have signed Australia international captain Lucas Neill for the remainder of the A-League season.
The Sky Blues beat Melbourne Heart to the prized signature of Neill, with the experienced defender expected to debut against John Aloisi's side at AAMI Park next week.
Neill had been available on a free transfer after his release from United Arab Emirates Pro League club Al Wasl.
Football Federation Australia helped Sydney FC land the 34-year-old, with chief executive officer David Gallop revealing every A-League club had been offered assistance should they have pursued the signing of Neill.
"I'm a Sydney boy and I'm excited to be coming back to Australia to play club football in front of friends and family with Sydney FC," Neill said after putting pen to paper on Saturday.
"I worked with Frank [Sydney FC coach Frank Farina] for many years in the Socceroos and I look back on those times with good memories, and it's great to have the chance to enjoy further success together at Sydney FC."
Farina was ecstatic at Neill's decision to join Sydney FC and hopes it will help his club push for a finals berth this season.
"We're thrilled Lucas has joined Sydney FC," Farina said.
"He is the current Socceroo captain and one of Australia's most decorated players but more importantly he is a tremendous defender and he will make a valuable contribution in the run in to the semi-final series."
Gallop also praised Neill's move to the A-League, and said the FFA was delighted to have helped facilitate the signing.
"A number of clubs held discussions with Lucas and his representatives and FFA made the same offer of assistance to each club," he said via statement.
"This season FFA has been party to several arrangements covering marquee players and returning Socceroos. Our aim has been to support clubs who have made substantial investments in top quality players.
"The marquee players and returning Socceroos have added great value to the A-League in terms of playing standard and marketability. At the end of the season we will review this policy in conjunction with the clubs to ensure we are maximizing benefits for the whole league."