AFTER a disappointing stint playing in the J-League which ultimately led to him being axed from the Socceroos squad, striker Nathan Burns will attempt to reignite his career on familiar soil.
And the Blayney native will look to do it with the A-League club in which he found career-best form – Wellington Phoenix.
He has signed a two-year contract with the club he scored 13 goals for when last spearheading its attack in season 2014-15.
“I’ve had some very positive experiences overseas in Japan but also playing with the [Australian] national team, but I’m ready to come back,” Burns said.
“When I was in Wellington I was playing really well, it was probably the highlight of my career. I had good players around me, guys like Roy [Krishna] and Mikey [McGlinchey] who are still here, and as soon as I landed again I felt happy to be in the city, it feels like home.
“With the [January window] opening I’ve had plenty of offers from A-League and around Asia, but when I heard Phoenix were keen, that was my first choice.
“The fans here are tremendous, the people in New Zealand are some of the nicest you’ll meet and I feel almost a little sense of unfinished business – you’re never out in the A-League, a few wins and you can make a late charge for the finals and then who knows?”
The Bathurst ’75-Western graduate was the star for Wellington in 2014-15.
He scored the club’s first-ever hat-trick when helping it to a 5-1 win over Melbourne City and went on to become the fastest player in the history of the A-League to reach the 10-goal mark for the season.
His potency in attack not only saw him named as Wellington’s Player of the Year, but claim the Johnny Warren Medal for the A-League Player of the Year and earn a return to the Socceroos squad. He was part of the side that won the Asian Cup.
Not surprisingly, Burns’ hot form attracted interest from rival clubs not only in the domestic competition, but foreign leagues as well.
Burns opted to join J-League club FC Tokyo, but his time with the club did not go as he had hoped.
He scored just three goals in 26 league appearances and was dropped to the club’s under 23s side. During that time Burns also fell out of favour with then Socceroos’ coach Ange Postecoglou.
He has not played for the Socceroos since November, 2016.
The 29-year-old then switched to fellow J-League club Sanfrecce Hiroshima in July last year, but did not see any game time.
So, when the transfer window opened Burns considered his options and decided to reunite with Wellington. He has already passed a medical which means he could feature in Phoenix’s against Melbourne Victory (January 10).