Adelaide United FC has won the race for the prized signature of striker Sergio van Dijk, with the Dutchman ending speculation about his future after putting pen to paper on a three year deal with the Reds.
Several Hyundai A-League clubs were chasing van Dijk’s services, but after becoming attached to the club and the city since arriving for the Reds’ AFC Champions League 2010 campaign, the former Brisbane Roar forward has decided his future is in Adelaide.
The new deal will keep van Dijk, who scored his debut Adelaide United goal in last Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Shandong Luneng in China, at the Reds until the end of the 2012/13 season.
With a scoring record of a goal every two games in his 50 Hyundai A-League appearances with Brisbane Roar, the 27 year olds signature was in high demand for good reason, and Reds Coach Aurelio Vidmar knows he has managed to secure a quality acquisition.
“We’re really wrapt that Sergio has decided to stay with Adelaide United,” Vidmar said.
“We believe he is a fantastic footballer first and foremost, and also a fantastic personality, so we’re really wrapt to have him sign.”
In just two ACL games Van Dijk has already demonstrated the value he brings to United, and after the Reds’ struggles in finding the back of the net in their 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season, Vidmar says the club had made it an emphasis to try and hold onto him for an extended period.
“It was pretty hard work, but Sergio kept all his dealings with the clubs he was negotiating with in a really professional manner…so we had to do a little bit of digging but I think we dug deep enough, and at the end we got the person we wanted,” Vidmar said.
“He’s had a fantastic two years in Brisbane…you know if you’re going to get a proven goal scorer like that, you’re always going to have to dig a little bit deep in your pockets but that’s the same everywhere in the world.”
“We knew exactly what we were getting with Sergio, we’ve seen him here over the last couple of years, and we had the opportunity to take him through the AFC Champions League and the club has done a lot of hard work in trying to get him here for the next few years.”
After initially not seeing himself staying with the 2008 ACL finalists in the long term, Van Dijk admits his fondness of Adelaide has grown the longer he has been in the South Australian capital and it was this ‘total package’, including securing a three year contract to remain in Australia, that sealed the deal.
“At first I didn’t think I would stay here for a longer term. The Asian Champions League was the main thing but since I came here I must say everything was getting better, Adelaide as a city, but also the squad and I’m very happy to stay here,” van Dijk said.
“What surprised me over here was that everything is so well organised. When I came here everything was arranged really well, it was really easy to settle in and that was important for me, as well as the results of the team.”
“That’s why I’m staying here, and for a three year deal, that’s a long time for me to stay in Australia and that’s what I want.”
Another lure that convinced van Dijk to stay with the Reds has been the team’s performances in the AFC Champions League, which he believes have shown signs of excellent promise moving ahead towards future Hyundai A-League campaigns, and another possible run in the ACL finals.
Van Dijk and the Reds’ next assignment in the AFC Champions League is against Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday 24 March. Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek (call 132 849, online at www.ticketek.com.au).
Sergio VAN DIJK
DOB 6 August 1982 (Assen, Holland)
2008-2010 Brisbane Roar (Hyundai A-League)
2005-2008 FC Emmen (Holland)
2002-2005 Helmond Sport (Holland)
1999-2002 FC Groningen (Holland)
Hyundai A-League appearances – 50 (25 goals) for Brisbane Roar
Missed out on winning the Hyundai A-League Golden Boot by one goal in 2008/09
Debut Hyundai A-League Appearance – 17 August 2008 v Wellington Phoenix
Debut Hyundai A-League Goal – 31 August 2008 v Central Coast Mariners