Central Coast Mariners have received a huge boost ahead of tonight’s FFA Cup clash in Brisbane, announcing the signing of highly-rated New Zealand youth international Gianni Stensness.
The 20-year-old has signed a one-year deal with the Mariners and is in the squad for the FFA Cup 2019 Round of 16 clash against the Roar tonight.
“This is something that I’ve strived my whole life for, it’s a dream come true,” Stensness said on the Mariners’ official website.
“It’s every footballer’s dream. Having come through the Academy, signing my first contract with the Mariners really adds something to it. This feels like home for me.
“I debuted against the Mariners but I cannot wait to play at Central Coast Stadium in Yellow and Navy, wearing the Mariners badge. The Mariners fans on the Central Coast are great, it’s a community club, there’s a lot of love here and I’m really proud to be back.”
Stensness was a part of the Mariners Academy in 2017 before joining NSW NPL club Manly United and then making the move to Wellington Phoenix.
He earned a call-up to New Zealand’s U-20 squad for this year’s U-20 FIFA World Cup in Poland, scoring a stunning goal against Norway as the All Whites progressed to the last 16.
“I’m a defensive midfielder that can play in the back four, I’m a physical player – I like battles in the midfield but I’m also quite technical. I like to control play, move the ball and make a lot of tackles,” Stensness said.
“Going away with the national team helped me improve two key things: my personal preparation and as a team, knowing my role in a tactical set up which allowed us to perform as a cohesive unit.
“Staj is a great coach, I really like the fact that he gets to know his players personally. He has lots of one-on-one conversations and not all coaches offer that. For me, I really respond to that type of coaching style.”
Stajcic added on his new recruit: “As a young player, Gianni boasts experience and maturity beyond his years and we are looking forward to seeing where he can take his game within a full-time professional environment.
“It has been a key focus to ensure we have experienced leaders within the squad, mixed with a group of young players hungry for success, like Gianni, who will learn a lot from the senior members of the squad.”