South Melbourne’s pre-season signing blitz saw ex-Melbourne Victory duo Joseph Keenan and Daniel Vasilevski head to Lakeside joining fellow new signings Carl Reccia, Peter Zois, James Stefanou and Marinos Gasparis.
The club has undisputedly boosted its playing stocks in a bid to take out the 2010 Victorian Premier League.
Keenan was born in Southampton, England and began his professional career in the Chelsea youth academy, playing two senior matches for the Blues before unfortunately breaking his leg.
He continued to play professionally in England (with Brentford) and overseas (with Willem II Tillburg in Holland), where he played alongside fellow signing, Zois.
Most recently, Keenan played for Melbourne Victory in the A-League before returning to the United Kingdom to play for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League last season.
A versatile player, Keenan is as comfortable in the centre of the park as he is on the left.
The Englishman told smfc.com.au how delighted he was to be sign with South Melbourne; “When I had my first stint in Australia with the Victory, we trained on Bob Jane Stadium several times and I came down to watch many of the SMFC games. I learnt that South Melbourne FC is proud, passionate and highly successful and is a club that is keen to go to the next level.”
“I hope that as part of my role I can assist Vaughan Coveny and the boys in achieving their ambition of winning some more silverware,” he said.
Vasilevski was also unveiled this week, joining the Blues from A-League outfit Newcastle.
He has also had other A-League experience due to his time with Perth Glory (2005-2006) and Melbourne Victory (2007-2009).
Earlier in his career, Vasilevski played for the now defunct Carlton Soccer Club (1999-2001) and Melbourne Knights (2001-2004) in the old National Soccer League.
Vasilevski was also an integral part of the Altona Magic team that lost the 2006 Victorian Premier League Grand Final against South 1-0, prior to his A-League move.
Excited to be joining South, Vasilevski explained to smfc.com.au that his decision to join the club was an easy one.
“South is a great club, with a large amount of history behind it. It has also had some champion players come through the club and wear the famous blue shirt,” he said.
“Because of this it was an obvious choice to join the club, as well as knowing I will have a strong fan base behind me every time I run out for the club.
“I look forward to working with my former teammates in Stiven Mrkela and Carl Recchia, as well as my new coach Vaughan Coveny who is a very impressive and professional individual.”
With Vasilevski’s signing, South Melbourne has gained another experienced and skilful midfielder for 2010. He will link up with fellow new signing Recchia in forming a solid midfield duo next season.
Reccia, 24, has played an integral part in Altona Magic’s back-to-back Championships of 2008 and 2009.
Recchia can play as a defensive player or in the midfield, giving coach Vaughan Coveny plenty of options.
This is Recchia’s second stint with South, as the then 20 year-old represented the club nine times under Stuart Munro in the final NSL season of 2003/04.
When speaking to smfc.com.au, Recchia was excited about joining the club for a second time. “I wanted to come back to South Melbourne because it is the best club in the Victorian Premier League. It has the best setup and the greatest history in Australia. With a strong squad and a coach like Vaughan in charge, I look forward to helping this great club win another championship very soon.”
Meanwhile, youngster Francesco Stella will not be at South Melbourne FC in season 2010 after accepting an offer to join Serie A outfit Siena for three years.
After previously spending time in Italy as a junior, 18-year-old Stella recently signed a professional contract with the Serie A side that has now given him an amazing opportunity to showcase his talents in one of the biggest leagues in world football.
Stella will train with the Siena senior squad but will initially play in the youth team until he has settled into his new surroundings.
Stella made his South Melbourne FC debut against Altona Magic late in the 2008 season, when he replaced Fernando de Moraes in the 92nd minute.
He made another substitute appearance against Richmond the following week before making a more consistent 17 appearances in 2009.
Speaking to smfc.com.au from Italy, Stella is excited about the challenge ahead and is highly grateful towards South for the opportunities given to him during his time at Lakeside.
“I am really excited to be getting a chance to be part of a Serie A outfit. I would like to thank South Melbourne FC for the past season and for giving me the chance to play senior football in the Victorian Premier League.”