Wilkshire heading home to Wollongong to boost A-League bid

Former Socceroos stalwart Luke Wilkshire has agreed to complete a romantic homecoming to Wollongong Wolves, the A-League aspirants where his 18-year international career began as a junior.

Luke Wilkshire

Luke Wilkshire is set for a return to home town Wollongong Source: Getty Images

The 80-cap two-time World Cup right-back says the Illawarra region is “crying out” for an A-League team, as he pledges his future to furthering the cause of the club which famously won the NSL grand final in 2000 only to be excluded when the A-League kicked-off in 2005.

Wilkshire, 36, is coming off a 26-game season for premiership and FFA Cup winning Sydney FC, with his contract due to expire at the end of May.

And while he has had offers to join the youth coaching ranks at former club Dynamo Moscow, the lure of returning to his roots as a marquee signing, according to well placed sources, has proved irresistible.

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“An A-League team in Wollongong would be fantastic for the region, the whole area is crying out for it,” he said.
“They have history, the fan base, the stadium and the ambition.



“All the ingredients are there for an A-League team.”

Wilkshire was coy on his immediate future, saying: “I’ve been concentrating on Sydney FC but I’m at the point now where I have to decide what to do next.

“I need to have a conversation with my family and we have decide where to base ourselves.
“Physically I’m feeling good, it’s just a matter of the mental side of things.

“When I came back to Australia to play for Sydney FC it was about grasping a good opportunity at the time, and I accepted that.

“And you never close doors on future opportunities. Certainly a lot of people have mentioned to me about going back to the Illawarra, we’ll just see what happens next.”

Wolves CEO Chris Papakosmas declined to confirm that Wilkshire was on his way home but did say: “We’d be absolute fools if we didn’t contemplate the prospect (of making an offer) if he was going to consider staying in Australia, and we are not fools.

“He’s been a very significant presence for Sydney FC this season and clearly still has plenty to give on the pitch.
“He’s in incredible nick and was superb all season for arguably the biggest and most successful club in the country.

“He’s a Wollongong boy, and we’re a club on the rise and going places.

“We’re very confident of our submission (for A-League entry in 2019-2020) and he’s a classic example of the type player and person this region has produced.

“He’s a former Wolves junior, so from a fairy tale perspective it would be quite romantic if he came full circle.

“We won’t be making any announcements until everything is signed and sealed and done properly.”

Whilst there are also A-League expansion bids from South-Western Sydney and Sutherland shire’s Southern Expansion, Wilkshire believes that a side from Wollongong, with the Wolves currently competing in NSW Premier League, “makes a lot more sense”.

“I think logistically it’s a great option when you’re expanding the competition when compared to putting in a third team in Sydney, anybody can see that,” he added.



Wilkshire has aspirations to transition into coaching at some point.

“I’m doing my badges, I love the innocence of young kids and football before the bullshit and politics come into it,” he added.

“So I’d love to get involved in that side of things down the line.”


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3 min read
Published 2 May 2018 at 2:22pm
By Dave Lewis