‘Special’ homecoming confirmed as Marco Rojas goes full circle after 13 years

Marco Rojas and Wellington Phoenix are reuniting after the 2013 Johnny Warren Medallist joined the Isuzu UTE A-League Semi-Finalists for the 2024-25 season.

Rojas is returning to the club that launched his professional career 13 years ago in Wellington, having departed Brisbane Roar.

The 32-year-old star burst onto the scene in 2009 thanks to the help of the ‘Yellow Fever’. New Zealand’s supporter group funded a scholarship for Rojas to train with the first team and he went on to sign his first pro contract that year.

He scored two goals in 21 appearances before leaving in 2011 but after more than a decade and stints with Melbourne Victory, German giants Stuttgart, Greuther Furth, Thun, Heerenveen, Sonderjyske and Chilean powerhouse Colo Colo, Rojas is reuniting with the Phoenix.

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“I recognise the importance they played in the scholarship that first got me going as a professional footballer,” Rojas said of the Yellow Fever.

“My family and I still talk about the Yellow Fever and the financial commitment they made, the ‘Retro Ricki’ car we had for the week or two in Wellington and the trip to Queenstown to play Melbourne.

“If it wasn’t for the scholarship I would have had a very different path to professional football.

“I’m very grateful for the start the Yellow Fever gave me and even though I left I hope they can still see it as a special thing that I’m coming back.”

Rojas has amassed 119 Isuzu UTE A-League matches and scored 39 goals, having scored twice in eight games during a brief spell with the Roar last season.

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Now back at Sky Stadium, where Wellington enjoyed an history-making season under boss Giancarlo ‘Chiefy’ Italiano, Rojas has high hopes.

Rojas added: “I’d like to believe so (Phoenix can achieve something special). I hope so. It’s beautiful having hope and that belief.

“I’m able to have that hope and belief because of what I’ve seen from the outside with the Phoenix under Chiefy. From the outside in it looks like a great place to be.

“I also got to go to Wellington to talk to Chiefy and spend some time with him. I recognise what a great person he is and I’m very hopeful that we can win together.

“I certainly believe it and I’ll be doing everything I can to make it happen.”

“There have been a few seasons in the A-League where I’ve been able to do really well and that shows what I might be able to do on the pitch,” he continued.

“And off it I’ve got the experience of playing in Chile and Europe so, should the young boys want some advice, they can learn from me and add a little bit extra to their games which can hopefully take them one step further than last season.”

Rojas represents the Phoenix’s first signing of the off-season, though they have re-signed star forward Kosta Barbarouses.

Alex Paulsen (AFC Bournemouth), Nicholas Pennington (Perth Glory), Oskar Zawada and Jack Duncan (Melbourne Victory), however, have departed.

“I’m really excited because of the amount of talent Marco has,” Italiano said. “My goal is I want to get him close to where he was in the 2016-17 A-League season, which I think was his best season, and I think we can do that here.

“We’re the right club for him to thrive. We’re going to give him the freedom to play and express himself.

“If we can get a fit Marco firing he’s going to help the team’s progression in the way we play, and I think we can definitely be better stylistically than we were last season.”