Wollongong United have sent a ripple through the Illawarra Premier League after securing the signature of highly-touted young gun Jordan Nikolovski.
After an underwhelming 2023 campaign, where the side missed out on finals, the Macedonia Park club announced on Monday morning that they had poached Port Kembla's captain for next season.
It is the second huge deal unveiled by the club in the past 24 hours, after captain Danny Lazarevski re-committed to United on Sunday. New Wollongong United coach Rob Jonovski has hinted that more signings will follow in the coming weeks.
Nikolovski, a proven goal scorer, has previous NSW NPL experience with the Wollongong Wolves. Now 24, he spent the past couple of years with the Zebras and became a popular figure at the club after joining from Albion Park.
"I've known Jordan my whole life and he's a good young man, first and foremost," Jonovski told the Mercury.
"He's a top player and I think everyone knows that he's going to bring some quality to our side, so I'm looking forward to working with him. I worked with him years ago at a youth level. He's ecstatic, and the club is ecstatic as well.
"It's a big move for him, he was the captain of Port. He's coming into a squad - and you'll see this with other signings in the next week or so - with a lot of players that have won stuff. There's going to be a lot of leaders in our squad next year.
"But he will add to that as well. Like everyone else, I just want him to focus on himself though."
The Nikolovski signing comes after Lazarevski became the first player to commit to United since Jonovski took the reins as head coach in August.
"Danny has been the captain there for the last few years and he's going to play an important role in creating that atmosphere with the current players that we've retained and the new players that are coming on board," Jonovski said.
"He's a good guy, I've spoken with a number of times now. He's hungry and ready to go, and his head's in the right space. I'm expecting him to play a major part in that dressing room for us and he's got the experience there at the back.
"I've got young Evan Ball and Bailey (Babarovski), and we've signed a couple of other guys in the backline. So we're expecting him to marshal that defence for us this season."
Jonovski, affectionately known as 'Rog', arrives at United boasting an impressive resume, with highlights including masterminding Corrimal's 2019 grand final victory over league champions Wollongong Olympic.
He then joined Coniston in 2021 and had them on track for a top-five finish when the season was cut short due to COVID. Jonovski led 'Cono' into the 2022 finals series, and was on track to repeat the dose this year, when the club made the shock announcement that they had parted ways with their head coach in May,
After a few months in the IPL wilderness, Jonovski was unveiled as United's new coach following the departure of 2022 championship-winner Billy Tsovolos.
"It's all new, a new dressing room. A lot of old boys have been retained and there will be a lot of new faces in there as well," Jonovski said.
"We've got to try to make up 21 points on (2023 champions) the White Eagles. Like every year, players come, players go. There will be more than a handful of new faces playing for United next year, and the public should be able to see who we've got on board in the next couple of weeks.
"There's some very exciting signings to come."
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