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Smeltz leaves Phoenix for Indonesia

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/04/2017

The Wellington Phoenix have farewelled striker Shane Smeltz following his short second stint with the A-League club.

All Whites veteran Smeltz, 35, has signed with Indonesian club Pusamania Borneo FC as a marquee player.

A Phoenix foundation player, he returned midway through the current season and scored three goals in 12 appearances.

Once the seventh-placed club's hopes of making the play-offs finished on Saturday night, Smeltz asked club management to be released ahead of the final round.

He flew home to Australia on Sunday to prepare for his Indonesian stint.

"The opportunity has happened quickly as can happen in football," Smeltz said.

"I was totally focused on the Phoenix and had we made the play-offs I would have stayed till we finished playing.

"At my age I can't afford to slow down and with the All Whites' World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup on the horizon I need to keep the good level of fitness I have built up at the Phoenix."

Co-coach Des Buckingham praised the impact of Smeltz on and off the park, saying he added a spark and professionalism to a team who were struggling at that point.

Smeltz is the club's all-time third highest goalscorer, with 24 goals in 51 appearances.

His 92 A-League goals is second only to Melbourne Victory front man Besart Berisha's 99.

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