Perth Glory defender Steve Pantelidis is leaving the A-League for the Malaysian Super League, the club announced via press release on Tuesday. The 30-year-old will be joining former Melbourne Victory manager Mehmet Durakovic at Selangor FC for the 2014 season which begins in January.
This is a move that is not unexpected, both in general, as Australians have been known to go to Malaysia when the opportunity arises, and specifically with Pantelidis rumored in November to be joining former Glory manager Dave Mitchell at Kedah FA. Nor is this Pantelidis' first foray overseas. Though he has played nearly 160 times in the A-League with the Victory, Glory and Gold Coast United, the defender has previously played at Aarhus Fremad in Denmark and more recently at Bintang Medan in Indonesia in 2011.
Though Perth manager Alistair Edwards, himself a former Selangor and Johor Darul Takzim player, denied reports of an impending transfer last month, contract negotiations clearly could not match the financial offers from Malaysia. Said Edwards in the club release:
"Steve has been a great servant to Perth Glory over the past two years. We were in talks to extend his contract further, however we had also received significant interest from a number of clubs in Asia for him. There is increasing money going into football in Asia and the Malaysian League is fast attracting a number of overseas players. As a club we do not want to stand in the way of a player seeking to pursue overseas aspirations, and as such we'd like to thank Steve for his commitment and professionalism at Perth Glory. We wish him well in his future endeavors."
Pantelidis will leave immediately for Kuala Lumpur and will not be available for Friday's game against Wellington Phoenix at the nib Stadium. The timing could not be worse for Edwards and the Glory as the club will already be without defender Scott Jamieson due to injury and are likely to still be missing William Gallas, as well. Not to mention team captain Jacob Burns, who will miss the second game of his two-game suspension and a fresh ankle injury for Shane Smeltz. Josh Risdon continues to recover from injury so the likes of Jack Clisby, Riley Woodcock and Matt Davies will be charged with stopping a Phoenix side in pursuit of its first victory.