Two-time A-League champions Sydney FC have announced they have officially signed Socceroos legend Brett Emerton on a three-year contract.
The 32-year-old midfielder joins the Sky Blues from English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers.
Sydney-born Emerton, who has spent the past 11 years in Europe with Blackburn and Feyenoord, is a major coup for Sydney and comes only days after Socceroos superstar Harry Kewell joined Melbourne Victory.
Emerton, who has represented his country 87 times, said he was delighted to be joining his hometown club.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me,” Emerton said in a club statement. “I’m a Sydney boy and I’m looking forward to representing the people of Sydney every week and playing in front of friends, family and Sydney football fans.
“Football has been very good to me and I have always said I’d like to come back and play in the A-League while I still have something to offer and thanks to Sydney FC and Blackburn Rovers that opportunity has come about a bit earlier than I had thought.”
Blackburn, who have been keen to trim their wage bill, helped facilitate the move by allowing the Socceroo to join Sydney without a transfer fee despite still having one year to run on his contract.
Sydney were keen on Emerton's services for some time and were understood to have tried to sign him late last season, before Blackburn managed to avoid relegation.
Sydney FC vice chairman Scott Barlow said: "The Sydney FC board has for some time viewed the signing of Brett Emerton as a major priority.
"We have been fortunate that this has come to fruition a year earlier than we had anticipated after Brett requested, and was granted, a release from the last year of his contract with English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers.
"Brett is an incredible role model for all young footballers in Australia and his return to his home town of Sydney while he is still at the peak of his powers is a major coup for Sydney FC and the Hyundai A-League.
“We are committed to delivering the highest quality football experience we can to our fans and today's announcement is an important step towards this goal."
Sydney FC chief executive officer Dirk Melton added: “This is a landmark day in the history of both football in Australia and Sydney FC.
“Brett is one of the best football players Australia has produced and he is coming to our club at a time when we are focused on building a sustainable foundation for the future.
“The attributes that Brett will provide Sydney FC both on and off the field will greatly assist our objective to create a high performance culture and realise our vision of enhancing the passion and belonging that fans have for our club.”