Alex Paulsen heads contingent of Phoenix players chosen in Team of the Season

The Wellington Phoenix have a strong presence in the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) team of the season.

Goalkeeper Alex Paulsen, defenders Scott Wootton and Tim Payne and midfielder Alex Rufer have been voted by their peers into the first XI, while forward Kosta Barbarouses has been named as a substitute.

Main photo: Alex Paulsen … chosen by his peers as captain of the PFA team.

Paulsen (21) received the most votes of any player and has been named captain of the team of the season.

The Phoenix ‘keeper kept 11 clean sheets, and registered a league-high save percentage of 80.9%. According to FotMob, he has also prevented the most goals (12.9), which is 2.3x more than second-placed Filip Kurto.

Paulsen also saved three of the five penalties he faced this season

“It’s very humbling to receive the most votes from my peers and be named the captain of the PFA team of the season,” Paulsen said.

“There’s obviously a lot of incredible talent within the league so this is a great honour not only for myself but for my goalkeeping union here at the Phoenix.

“I wouldn’t be in this position without the support from Jack Duncan and Ruben Parker, who’ve made me the best I can be.”

Phoenix defenders Scott Wootton and Tim Payne, making their first appearance in the PFA team, helped their side to a league-best defensive record, shipping only 26 goals for the entire campaign.

Payne also added three goals and four assists, showcasing his ability to have an impact in the attacking third too.

Phoenix skipper Alex Rufer also appears in the PFA selection for the first time, after inspiring his team’s run to the A-League semi-finals, and scoring one goal and making three assists.

Forward Kosta Barbarouses is in the PFA’s end-of-season team for the third time.

Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano … chosen by PFA players as Coach of the Year.

The PFA players have also chosen Giancarlo Italiano as the coach of the PFA team of the season.

He becomes the second Phoenix head coach to receive the honour, after his predecessor Talay, was named Coach of the Season in the 2019-20 iteration.

The Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) team of the season is:

Starting line-up

Alex Paulsen (gk) (c) (Wellington Phoenix)
Jacob Farrell (Central Coast Mariners)
Brian Kaltak (Central Coast Mariners)
Scott Wootton (Wellington Phoenix)
Tim Payne (Wellington Phoenix)
Alex Rufer (Wellington Phoenix)
Josh Nisbet (Central Coast Mariners)
Tolgay Arslan (Melbourne City)
Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne Victory)
Adam Taggart (Perth Glory)
Joe Lolley (Sydney FC)


Danny Vukovic (gk) (Central Coast Mariners)
Damien Da Silva (Melbourne Victory)
Jake Girwood-Reich (Sydney FC)
Marcelo (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Anthony Caceres (Sydney FC)
Kosta Barbarouses (Wellington Phoenix)
Apostolos Stamatelopoulos (Newcastle Jets)


Giancarlo Italiano (Wellington Phoenix)

The team

The team comprises of a 4-3-3 formation, with seven substitutes as voted by the PFA’s A-League Men’s members at the end of the regular season. The players also voted on their Coach of the Season. Eight of the starting XI are making their first appearance in the PFA Team of the Season, while an additional three are included in the substitutes.

About the PFA Team of the Season

The inaugural PFA A-League Team of the Season was announced in 2009 and has been revealed annually in A-Leagues Finals Series.

Based on peer recognition, selection in the PFA Team of the Season remains one of the highest accolades a professional footballer can receive in Australia.

At the end of each season, PFA members from the A-Leagues are asked to vote on their best XI. The composition of the team is based on the number of votes tallied for each player in each position, with the substitutes bench comprising those players who finished below those in the starting XI positions.

The player with the most votes is determined the Team of the Season’s captain.


Games to be played on Saturday May 18, 2024

Semi-final 1, second leg

Central Coast Mariners v Sydney
Industree Group Stadium, Gosford, 9.45pm (NZT)

Semi-final 2, second leg

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
Sky Stadium, Wellington, 6.30pm (NZT)

Buy your tickets here

Grand final

Game to be played on Saturday May 25, 2024

Winner semi-final 1 v winner semi-final 2
Highest-ranked semi-final winner to host game

READ MORE: Potential venues locked in for men’s A-League grand final >>>>

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