Sunday, February 3, 2013
Captaincy convinces Zadkovich to stay
By Liam FitzGibbon
The lure of leading the Newcastle Jets into the future helped convince sought-after midfielder Ruben Zadkovich to remain with the A-League club for another two seasons.Zadkovich on Monday signed a new deal with the Jets after knocking back other contract offers from Europe, Asia and Australia.The 26-year-old took over the club captaincy in December and said the opportunity to keep the role fulltime following the shock departure of former skipper Jobe Wheelhouse was a major carrot."I've thoroughly enjoyed my time as captain this year, replacing Jobe, and the attitude of the young players we have here is first class so it makes my job pretty easy," Zadkovich said on Monday."It's (the long-term captaincy) something we'll talk about with the coach and the backroom staff but it's something I'll be looking to hold on to, that arm band."I'd like to think while I've had it I've done a decent job so if I can keep setting the example at training and on game day, the team will follow and the arm band will stay mine."Wheelhouse stunned teammates last week by quitting after being told it was unlikely he would be offered a new contract by the Jets at the end of the season.Despite suggestions he and Wheelhouse had been vying for the same contract, Zadkovich said he never felt in competition with Wheelhouse."I never felt that because he's a great player and a really close friend," Zadkovich."He knows above all else his friendship is what's most important to me and football comes second to that."Zadkovich spent two seasons with Sydney FC and had a brief spell with Derby County in England before joining the Jets.He was reportedly a target of A-League rookies Western Sydney for next season and said he also had offers from abroad."It was something that we looked at but the combination of the place, the people, this new leadership role, that outweighed the pros for the other contracts overseas," Zadkovich said."It's not something I would shut the door completely on."Every player's ambition is to play overseas at big clubs but for now, at this stage of my career, I really think it's important I just keep working hard and if it's not broken, don't fix it."Zadkovich's promotion to the captaincy has coincided with a career-best run of form and Jets coach Gary van Egmond described him as a cornerstone of the playing group."Ruben has not only matured into a leader on and off the field but his form this season has been outstanding," van Egmond said."He has stepped up this season as a player and is a great mentor to the young players."