Wellington Phoenix release Barbarouses after 'difficult' year

The Kiwi winger has secured a contract termination for compassionate reasons and will be looking for a new club in 2017-18

Wellington Phoenix have agreed to release marquee winger Kosta Barbarouses from the final year of his contract "for reasons not pertaining to football".

In a statement on Monday, the Phoenix expressed their disappointment at losing Barbarouses, who is keen to leave his hometown after an unspecified "difficult twelve months off the field".

The 27-year-old joined Wellington from Melbourne Victory on a two-year contract before the 2016-17 A-League season.

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"It's not a decision we have made lightly, especially after the back end to the season that Kosta had," Phoenix general manager David Dome said.

"But it's never been our policy as a club to stand in the way of a player's happiness, or the happiness of those dear to him, and as much as we could have dug our heels in, the best thing for all parties concerned is an amicable termination.

"Obviously it's disappointing to lose a player of Kosta's pedigree - he's exactly the type of character we want to attract to this football club. But every door closing is a door opening and we remain confident the squad we are currently assembling will have Wellington very much in the mix for finals football."

Kosta Barbarouses Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix FFA Cup 02082016

In his second stint with the Phoenix, Barbarouses made 25 appearances.

The New Zealand international's form was questioned early in the season as he had to wait until Round 12 to open his goal-scoring account, but Barbarouses ended the campaign with five goals and five assists to win the club's Player of the Year award.

"Wellington Phoenix gave me my first start in professional football," he said.

"There are so many people at this club that I am especially grateful to, and I guess that's something that's made this decision a lot harder. 

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"People forget sometimes that there are more factors involved than just football. Behind every player are a lot of people making sacrifices – I've been fortunate to enjoy tremendous support, so sometimes you have to think about others and consider their needs."

Barbarouses started his professional career with the Phoenix in 2007 before joining Brisbane Roar in 2010 to help the club to its inaugural A-League championship.

Tough stints in Russia and Greece followed before he returned to Australia with Victory, playing there for three seasons and winning the 2014-15 A-League double and the 2015 FFA Cup.