The Wollongong Wolves Football Club announced a major signing coup with ex-Albion Park and Wolves junior, Socceroo and two time FIFA World Cup representative Luke Wilkshire agreeing to continue his career with the Wollongong Wolves for the remainder of the 2018 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Competition.
Wilkshire has enjoyed a remarkable career having played professionally in England, Holland and Russia and living the ultimate football dream, forging a lucrative profession playing the sport he is passionate about at the highest possible level.
“Luke’s pedigree is right up there with the best we have ever produced from our region. He has been playing at a professional level since 1998, represented Australia 80 times and this year was one of Sydney FC’s strongest performers helping them claim the Premiers Plate as minor premiers. He started it all right here in the Illawarra and South Coast and it’s superb to have him back home, still playing great football,” Timpano said.
Wilkshire will be Wolves’ marquee signing and will be available to play this Sunday in the match against competition leaders Sydney Olympic. Following his decision to leave Sydney FC, Wilkshire was inundated with offers, both here in Australia and overseas but the final decision was a relatively easy one for him to make.
“I have had an amazing football journey and really there is no better way, for me, than to look at finishing my time on the field right here in the Illawarra and South Coast, where it all began for me all those years ago. A bit of a full circle really. I always wanted to one day come back home and give something back and be a part of the next generation coming through and this deal with the Wolves is the ideal way for me to be a part of football in the future across our region,” Wilkshire said.
You can watch a LIVE STREAM of Wilkshire's first appearance for the Wolves against Sydney Olympic on Sunday, May 13 on the NPL NSW Facebook page.
Wilkshire will form a part of the Wolves leadership group consisting of Chris Price, Nick Montgomery and Justin Pasfield and will also assume assistant coach duties in conjunction with current player/assistant coach Montgomery.
He has already commenced training with the squad and will have a massive impact for the Wolves on the field and also off the field.
“I have had a couple of training runs with the boys now and have settled in nicely. It’s a great bunch of boys with plenty of talent and Jacob has put together a quality squad. We can really make a big statement in this competition and I can’t wait to get on the paddock and play my part in getting us right up there and challenging for semi-final football.
"I’ve been very impressed with what has been happening with the Wolves over the last year and a half and really looking forward to playing my part in continuing the huge improvements the club has made,” Wilkshire added.
Along with his playing and coaching commitments, Wilkshire will also be heavily involved in the Wollongong Wolves’ community engagement programs growing football across the Illawarra and South Coast and introducing additional initiatives for boys and girls of all ages to participate, enjoy and develop.
Timpano added: “Luke has played under some of the best managers and coaches in world football and obviously has been exposed to top-level systems and processes.
"He will be a huge asset to our first-grade squad in terms of preparation, training and planning and he will have an even bigger impact on our U20s and U18s and even our junior teams, where he will be able to guide and mentor them as they look to progress in their careers.
"Having Luke as part of our club is massive. He is a winner with that winning mentality and even after a long successful career filled with too many highlights to list, he still retains that hunger and competitive mentality. The ultimate professional.”
Concluding his contractual obligations with Sydney FC, Wilkshire has moved back home to the Illawarra with his wife and two young children and is determined to play a significant role in the long-term future of the club.
“Finishing off my playing career with the Wolves is ideal. It started here and will end here. Perfect. Eventually, when I do hang my boots up I will continue to be involved in football and I certainly have the coaching bug that’s for sure.
"With the Wolves the standout choice for expansion of the A-League, the huge strides the club has achieved recently and the opportunity to stay a big part of football right here in the Illawarra and South Coast and do my bit for the region it really is exciting times. Even though there were quite a few offers to consider, it was an easy decision to make. Home. The Wolves. And the A-League.”
Wilkshire’s first appearance for the Wolves will be this Sunday, 13th May 2018 at Belmore Sports Ground against Sydney Olympic.
His first game at home at WIN Stadium, the Wolf Den, will be the following Sunday 20th May, when the Wollongong Wolves take on Marconi Stallions. A bumper crowd is expected to welcome local boy Wilkshire home.
- This article was initially published on the Wollongong Wolves website