Sunday, 18 August 2013 3:25 PM
Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has ended his long search for a new club and joined Omiya Ardija, the J-League club have confirmed.
Neill has been without a club since the end of the A-League season when he completed a short-term deal with Sydney FC, while the defender has only played 10 matches this year – four of them with the Socceroos.
The former Blackburn, West Ham and Galatasaray defender was released by Emirati club Al Wasl in January and after a long search for a club, signed a short-term deal with Sydney but only managed three games with the Sky Blues.
After Australia qualified for next year’s World Cup finals in June, Socceroos head coach Holger Osieck warned the veteran defender to find a club quickly or risk losing his spot in the squad for Brazil 2014 and Neill has seemingly heeded that ultimatum.
A picture of Neill wearing Omiya’s shirt has been posted on the club’s website alongside a quote attributed to the 35-year-old, saying he is ‘very excited’ to join the J. League outfit based just north of Tokyo.
“I’m very excited that I was able to join Omiya Ardija,” Neill said on Sunday.
“I hope I can become Ardija’s strength with my passionate playing style and strong will to win.
“I want to use my experience to help my team-mates achieve the club’s goals.”
Omiya finished 13th in the 2012 J. League season but were the early leaders in the current campaign, before a run of six straight defeats saw them slump to fifth on Saturday.
Last week, after the fifth loss in a row, the club’s owners lost patience in Slovenian head coach Zdenko Verdenik and sacked the 64-year-old, naming Takeyuki Okamoto as a stand-in boss.