Perth Glory have boosted their midfield ranks for the upcoming Isuzu UTE A-League season, with the capture of exciting attacking weapon Keegan Jelacic from NPL Queensland outfit Olympic FC.
The 19-year-old, who has been capped by New Zealand at U17 level, has penned a two-year deal with the Glory, who endured a miserable 21/22 season finishing bottom of the A-League ladder after only mustering four wins from 26 games.
Jelacic had been in sparkling form in the NPL this year, finding the net on nine occasions in just ten appearances, including a brace of penalties in their 4-1 win against Gold Coast Knights last weekend.
“I’m excited to sign my first pro contract,” Jelacic told the Glory’s official website, “and honoured that Perth Glory have given me this opportunity.
“I’d love to play as much football as possible next season and contribute to the team as much as I can. “I can’t wait to get started!”
Recently appointed Perth Glory Head of Recruitment, Andy Keogh was thrilled to land his man.
“Keegan is another young player with bags of potential and we are delighted to welcome him to our great club,” he said.
“His ability to go either way and glide past players is a fantastic attribute to possess and we know there is a lot of improvement still in him.
“With the right plan and development programme in place, he will become a valuable asset going forward.
“Olympic FC must be given a lot of credit for getting him ready to make the step up into a professional environment again under the guidance of their Head Coach Ben Cahn.”
For Cahn himself, his delight in seeing Jelacic depart for a crack at the professional ranks, is tempered by the loss of one of his key performers.
“There has been a fair bit of interest in Keegan in the past few weeks,” Cahn explained.
“His agent Shane Smeltz has been working hard to secure a deal, and the past couple of days have been a whirlwind for him.”
“We had an agreement with Keegan that we wouldn’t stand in his way should an offer come in.
“He will certainly be missed at Olympic, but we’re very proud of the part we’ve played in his recent growth and we’re all excited to see him go on and achieve great things.”
Olympic did not receive a transfer fee as part of the deal, a fact lamented by Cahn.
Jelacic becomes the second young talent to depart Olympic for the A-League in the past year, with winger Jez Lofthouse having joined Brisbane Roar last September.
The 22-year-old had lit up the NPL competition in the red and white of Olympic, but has so far found opportunities at the Roar to be at a premium.
Cahn however backed his protégé to come good.
“It’s been a tough start for Jez. But he’s more resilient than some people might think, I back him completely to prove to everyone that he can excel at that level, I just hope he gets the chance to show it.”
When asked about his own future Cahn stated he was more than ready to take his coaching career onto the next level.
Cahn was shortlisted for the Central Coast Mariners job last year before missing out to Nick Montgomery.
“I’ve been close” said the 34-year-old, who since taking charge of Olympic back in 2018, has led his side to four successive NPL Grand Final appearances.
Cahn also admitted he would be open to offers from outside of Australia.
“I’m hungry and ready to make an impact at the next level whether that’s in Australia or overseas. There’s a couple of things bubbling away at the moment, it’s just a case of being patient and seeing what the next few months might bring.”
Images Supplied: Patrick Leigh Perspectives