Sydney FC 'rookie' lands first pro contract at 23

“Late developer” Alex Mullen has been given the opportunity of a lifetime after signing his first pro contract with Sydney FC as a mature age rookie.

The 23-year-old spent the past four years plying his trade in the US College soccer system in North Carolina for Mars Hill University and most recently represented Para Hills in the National Premier Leagues South Australia. 

A cousin of Newcastle Jets defender Daniel Mullen, the midfielder scored a one-year deal with Sydney after chipping in with a goal in the side’s 7-0 win over Earlwood Wanderers.

He also featured in a 5-1 defeat of Macarthur Rams.

His uncle Joe Mullen is a former Socceroo.

Sydney is the first A-League club to sign under the new mature age rookie rule.

Mullen said he was looking forward to his first season as a professional footballer.

“It’s an absolute dream come true,” he said. “I’ve worked hard over the last four years and now I’m fortunate enough to be involved in the biggest club, I think, in the A-League.

“I’m just excited and I want to give my best and help the team win the Championship this season. The opportunity to play in the Hyundai A-League is a great one, it’s growing in stature, and being an Australian boy I want to be a part of the Australian pathway.

“I’m looking to stamp my place in the team, I’m not here just to make up the numbers, I really want to push for my spot and earn my place in the team.”

Arnold said Mullen will provide strong competition for places and was impressed with the player's output during his two week trial with the Sky Blues.

“It’s a great opportunity for a kid who’s a late developer and who’s a stand out in the South Australian State League,” Arnold said.

“We’ve been monitoring him for a while and we had a few good tip offs about him. He came to train with us for two weeks and was very impressive.

“It’s great that the FFA have opened up the mature age rookie position and we’re glad to have him fill it. He adds depth to the squad, physically he’s in really good shape and he gives us some good competition for places. We’re looking forward to having him at Sydney FC.”

The mature age rookie rule is a new initiative from Football Federation Australia which allows a Hyundai A-League club to sign a player in addition to their maximum squad of 23 and outside of the salary cap, as long as the player is over 21 and has not played professionally in the last 18 months.

Sydney FC take on Adelaide United in the Westfield FFA Cup round of 16 at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday night (kick off 7:30pm AEST). 

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