Jets land Brazilian midfielder

Newcastle Jets have snapped up Brazilian and former Eredivisie stalwart Leonardo Vitor Santiago for the upcoming A-League campaign.

Known as Leonardo, the 32-year-old attacking midfielder has played for Feyenoord Rotterdam, Ajax Amsterdam and NAC Breda.

He is due to arrive in Australia in mid-September.

Jets head coach Scott Miller says the 2002 UEFA Cup champion will prove to be a valuable addition to the Hunter outfit.

“We are excited to have a player of Leonardo’s experience and class joining our Club,” Miller said of the former KNVB (Dutch) Cup and Austrian Bundesliga winner.

“Leonardo is a player that we believe will add craft and spark to our team, inspire and entertain our Members, and provide leadership through his actions.

“We are also anticipating that as well as contributing strongly on the pitch and in the Newcastle and Northern New South Wales community, Leonardo will be able to impart his years of experience acquired through competing at some of the top levels of the game to our many young and ambitious attacking players – players like Mitch Cooper, Josh Barresi, and Radovan Pavicevic.”

Leonardo is capable of being deployed as a No.10 or in wide attacking roles. He made his senior debut at just 17 and spent an impressive 13 seasons contracted to premier clubs in the Dutch Eredivisie before linking with Austrian heavyweights Red Bull Salzburg in 2011. 

Stints in the Hungarian top flight with Ferencváros and the German second division with 1860 Munich followed.

He was a regular at the start of the 2014–15 season with Die Lowen (The Lions), but was dropped from the squad when Markus von Ahlen took over the coaching  post in September last year. Two months later Leonardo was granted a release.

Speaking from his home in Holland with the assistance of an interpreter, Leonardo said he was keen to launch into the next phase of his career.

“I have spent many years now playing in Europe, so it is exciting for me to travel to the other side of the globe to play professional football,” he said. 

“The A-League is a competition that I have heard good things about, and from what I have seen on the internet Newcastle looks like a great place to live.

“The start of the A-League season is not too far away, so I look forward to getting to Australia as soon as possible to meet everyone at the Club, our fans, and to get to work.”