A footballer who discovered his passion for goalkeeping as a junior player with Auckland’s Waiheke United has made a big-money move to English Premier League club Aston Villa.
Joe Gauci (23) has completed a transfer deadline-day move from A-League club Adelaide United to Villa.
Adelaide-born Gauci is a full Australian international. He opted to represent the country of his birth despite being eligible to play for Malta or New Zealand, where he spent seven years of his childhood.
Gauci moved to Waiheke Island as a four-year-old when his mother was transferred from Adelaide to Auckland through her job.
The young Gauci registered with Waiheke United and first played as a striker.
He and his brother would travel on the ferry from Waiheke Island to play clubs in Auckland.
Main photo: Waiheke United’s Joe Gauci (left) with younger brother Jed. Photo credit: Joe Gauci Instagram.
However, a school holiday programme convinced Gauci to try on the goalkeeper gloves.
“One of the older boys, who was probably about 12 at the time, took a shot, and I made a half-decent save,” Gauci said.
“Everyone was shouting out, ‘you should be a goalkeeper!’.
“So, I became one.”
When he was 11, Gauci’s parents decided to return to Adelaide and his career has taken him to the Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne City and hometown club Adelaide United, and into the Australian national squad.
Reports from the UK say the 6′ 5″ Gauci has signed with Aston Villa till 2028 and it’s expected Adelaide United will receive a fee said to be €1.5m plus add-ons.
Initially, he’s seen to be a back-up for Villa’s World Cup-winning Argentine ‘keeper, Emi Martinez.
Adelaide’s goalkeeper coach Eurene Galekovic said: “We’ve witnessed Joe’s growth and development firsthand during his time with us.
“His commitment to improving as a goalkeeper has been evident in every training session and match. Joe’s positive attitude, work ethic, and exceptional talent have made him an asset to our team.
“While we are sad to see him go, we understand that this transfer presents a fantastic opportunity for Joe to further elevate his career, joining one of the worlds truly great competitions.
“We wish Joe all the success in the world, and should he return to Australia, he will always be welcome back at Adelaide.”