Wellington Phoenix offer record-breaking teenager his first pro contract

posted in: A-League (Men), News

The Wellington Phoenix have confirmed a pro contract has been offered to teenager Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues — the youngest player to ever play for the club’s men’s A-League team — in an effort to keep him with the club.

Sloane-Rodrigues made his first team debut against Melbourne City on Saturday March 9, at 16 years and 250 days old, eclipsing the previous record held by All White Ben Waine who stepped out for the Phoenix as a 17-year-old.

Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues.

Confirming a contract had been offered to the New Zealand U-17 international, head coach Giancarlo Italiano said: “At the moment, there’s an offer on the table for Gab, so it’s just really up for him now to decide whether he wants to stay here or not.”

Sloane-Rodrigues played his junior football at Auckland’s East Coast Bays club before joining Auckland United for the 2021 season and moving to Wellington in 2022.

He made his international debut in January 2023, playing for New Zealand at the Oceania U-17 Men’s Championship in Fiji.

Main photo: Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues … playing for the New Zealand U-17 team at the OFC U-17 Men’s Championship. Photo: Kirk Corrie / Phototek.

Italiano says he spotted Sloane-Rodrigues when he went to watch the Phoenix reserves play in 2023.

Immediately after the reserves match, there was a Category 2 game involving Phoenix academy players.

“I was just there by chance, watching that second game, and I liked what I saw. I thought he (Sloane-Rodrigues) had something different to what all the other players had,” Italiano said.

“He was very confident on the ball, liked running (and) facing forward … very good technically … and I just brought him into training the next day.

“I brought in (Luke) Supyk at the same time as well, and for me, they were both fantastic.”

The Phoenix signed striker Supyk — a national U-17 teammate of Sloane-Rodrigues — to his first professional contract in September 2023, when he was 17.

New Zealand’s Luke Supyk at the 2023 OFC U-17 Men’s Championship tournament. Photo: Kirk Corrie / Phototek.

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Sloane-Rodrigues has been included in the Phoenix squad for their Round 22 match against Sydney at Auckland’s Eden Park though Supyk has been left out of the squad.

Watch Giancarlo Italiano interview

Here are the coach’s comments about his up-and-coming young players:

PREVIEW: Phoenix counting on big Eden Park crowd to help get them a win >>>>

The five youngest Phoenix men’s debutants

Source: Stuff

Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues; 16 years, 8 months, 6 days

Ben Waine; 17 years 1 month 27 days

Liberato Cacace; 17 years 4 months 6 days

Luke Supyk; 17 years 5 months 23 days

Alex Rufer; 17 years 7 months 28 days


Game to be played on Saturday March 16, 2024

Wellington Phoenix v Sydney
Eden Park, Auckland, 5.30pm (NZT)

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