Youth international goalkeeper Paul Izzo has left Adelaide United for the chance of first team football at Central Coast Mariners.
Izzo signed a two-year deal with the Mariners and is hoping to provide stiff competition for incumbent No. 1 Liam Reddy.
The 20-year-old found it difficult to get game at the Reds with Socceroo and skipper Eugene Galekovic a consistent standout between the sticks.
“(These are) very exciting times for me, it’s going to be a new experience for me,” Izzo said of the move.
“My agent gave me a call saying that there was an opportunity to come to the Mariners and seeing the past success they’ve had here with goalkeepers I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to grow as a player and even a person.
“By watching games last year you can tell he’s (Liam Reddy) a massive character in the group so I’m sure working with him will be a great experience for me.
“I want to train the best I can to give the coach a headache and that can only be a good thing for the team.
“Like many of the young players who have left to play overseas they have made a name for themselves in Australia and that’s my goal.”
The Gosford outfit has their own goalkeeping upheavals with the coach behind names such as Mat Ryan and Danny Vukovic – John Crawley – announcing his move from the Central Coast to Sydney FC.
Mariners head coach Tony Walmsley said he was excited to reach a deal with Izzo.
“Part of our recruitment process is to identify top Australian talent who have the ability to make a name for themselves in the Hyundai A-League, then succeed in Europe,” Walmsley said.
“Paul fits the profile and is hungry for success. He recently signed a two year deal at Adelaide, but feels ready to challenge himself interstate and Adelaide have supported his desire to join us for pre-season.
“Liam Reddy is coming off an excellent season and Paul is under no illusions as to the scale of his challenge here, but it's a challenge he is prepared to take on and we are delighted to add him to our playing group on a two year deal.”
Izzo, a product of the Campbelltown City Soccer Club, spoke warmly of his time at Adelaide.
“I want to firstly say thank you to the club for allowing me to pursue this opportunity,” he said.
“It was a tough decision to leave this amazing club and especially the environment within the change rooms, but I know it’s the right one.
“The past three seasons have been amazing and I’ve learnt so much, especially under the guidance of Blaza (Peter Blazincic) and of course working with Euge.”
Reds coach Josep Gombau said it was never going to be easy for a young goalkeeper in the shadow of the veteran Galekovic.
“(Izzo) is a player that brings to us a lot and knowing that he is under Eugene, the best goalkeeper in the league, it is more difficult to secure game time,’ Gombau said.
"We just want to wish the best of luck to him, but the people need to understand that even though he is from Adelaide, he wants to try and go to another club aiming to have the minutes that he doesn’t have here.”
Goalkeeper Coach Blazincic, who has trained Izzo for the past three years, said the time was right for the goalkeeper to seek more first team football.
“Coaching Izzo has been good for both of us,” he said. “Having him here and seeing him progress - he has obviously matured a lot.
“My job and role in the club is to make A-League keepers and if we can’t accommodate them, then we wish them all the best to achieve that goal of playing in the A-League and going further.
“As with all the keepers that we’ve produced, like Izzo, we hope that someday we can bring them back to our club and represent us.”