Phoenix immediately land first blow in A-Leagues’ newest rivalry as ‘very valuable player’ re-signs

WATCH: Wellington Phoenix announce the re-signing of young gun Ben Old.

Ben Old has recommitted to Wellington Phoenix by signing a three-year contract extension with the Isuzu UTE A-League side.

Auckland are set to enter the competition in 2024-25 following Tuesday’s announcement and Old grew up in the New Zealand city, however, the 21-year-old has re-signed at the Phoenix through until the end of the 2026-27 campaign.

Old has called Wellington home for the past six years having joined the club’s academy as a 15-year-old and he explained the reason behind his decision to extend as the ‘Nix continue to impress under Giancarlo ‘Chiefy’ Italiano.

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“I’ve got my family and all of my loved ones up in Auckland and it does sound like a nice thing to play for them,” Old said ahead of Melbourne City’s visit on Saturday.

“But the Phoenix have helped me so much with my development, I feel like I’ve cemented a good spot in the squad, and the staff are amazing.

“The philosophy the club is bringing in also makes it the perfect environment for me.

“There’s been a big shift this season in the club wanting to bring through a lot of young boys and you’ve seen Chiefy and the staff have placed a lot of trust in us to play.

“Having an environment that wants to bring young players through and develop them and then sell them on is the perfect place for me to develop, build up my minutes and grow as a player.”


Italiano has placed a big emphasis on youth since stepping up from his role as assistant to replace Ufuk Talay in Wellington at the start of the season.

He signed teenage striker Luke Supyk to a three-year deal with the senior team before the start of 2022-23.

Reserve team captain Isaac Hughes has also been promoted, and the Phoenix handed out the longest contract in their history to teenage sensation Lukas Kelly-Heald before re-signing goalkeeping sensation Alex Paulsen three weeks ago.

“It’s great seeing what the club’s doing, how they’re really bringing through a lot of the academy boys,” said Old.

“We both trust the Phoenix to play us and support us through what is quite an important stage in our careers.

“It’s the best environment to be in to show what we’re made of and then hopefully be able to go overseas.”


Into his third full season with the Phoenix, Old was limited to just 17 matches last term due to osteitis pubis, having made 24 appearances in 2021-22.

Through four rounds this term, he has already featured in all four matches for Italiano’s ‘Nix.

“It was a really tough season last season. I felt like I was breaking through into the team early on and then this injury happens.

“I was able to play through the pain, but I wasn’t able to play to the standard that I wanted to. Eventually I just had to stop playing. That was a decision I took with the medical team.

“Thankfully we stopped then because any longer it would have just prolonged my time out.”

He added: “I wasn’t meant to be back until the start of the January so it’s a real credit to them.

“It was an injury which Cory (Glover) and I had to do a lot of work and research on to understand because it’s not a common injury. It was tough for us, but we did really well to get back as soon as we did.”

For Italiano, he believes Old is a player Wellington can “build our team around”.


“Oldie has proven to be a very valuable player in the team,” Italiano said. “He’s had a significant setback with his injury and Cory Glover’s done a great job of getting him to a point where we’re able to give him good gametime.

“Now it’s about incrementally getting him to a point where he can start games. We consider him a massive part of the team so we want him to be starting as many games, and build on those 50 odd appearances.

“The next goal is getting him to a point where he can take that next step. Obviously going to an Olympics and doing well, and even the potential if he does really well going to Europe.”