Spiranovic leaves Wanderers 'a hero to many'

Western Sydney Wanderers have praised outgoing defender Matthew Spiranovic “as one of the most talented centre backs to grace the domestic league and a hero to many in Western Sydney”.

Spiranovic completed a move to Chinese Super League strugglers Hangzhou Greentown FC just hours before the summer transfer window closed.

Spiranovic departs Wanderers for China

In a glowing tribute to the 27-year-old, the club acknowledged his key role in their extraordinary early success.

Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas said: “Matthew’s time at the Wanderers saw our club reach the heights in both the domestic competition and AFC Champions League and he will be fondly remembered by the Wanderers faithful.

Spiranovic was a significant part in the club's run to the 2014 A-League Grand Final and followed that up with selection in the PFA Team of the Year.

He played every minute of the Socceroos 2014 World Cup Finals campaign and was a key figure in the Wanderers historic AFC Champions League triumph against Al-Hilal and the Socceroos Asian Cup conquest.

The defender thanked the club and fans but saved special praise for coach Tony Popovic for helping him reach career-best form.

“Winning the AFC Champions League final was the big one but our success on the park overall and being part of a club which is so young but still has that winning culture in so many different areas of the club has been amazing to be a part of,” Spiranovic said.

“The fans are truly incredible - they have been pioneers in a way for football fans in Australia and without them, there is no way that we would have made history like we did.

“I had never played professionally in Australia prior to coming to the Wanderers, so to experience the best that football can offer in terms of success and coaching and helping me achieve my peak as a footballer while being here, after playing in countries like Germany and Japan, is something that I will never forget.

“Popa’s drive and attention to detail is unlike anything that I had experienced before from a coach. Our success came from his ability to make us focus every day and learn something new every day and not look any further than the next session and next match.

“He helped me reach my peak as a player so for that to happen after I had spent many years overseas prior to my Wanderers experience, I can’t thank him enough. I feel privileged to have played under him.

“I am very excited about the next challenge and new chapter ahead.

“The Chinese Super League boasts so many fantastic players that have been at the biggest clubs and leagues in the world. Playing regularly against players such as Demba Ba, Robinho, Paulinho, Momo Sissoko, Elkeson and Ricardo Goulart will be a massive test and something that I look forward to.”

Spiranovic's exit is a huge blow for the Wanderers who face a massive rebuild following last season's disastrous domestic campaign and the departure of 15 players.