HE hasn’t lived in Perth since he was six, but Tomislav Mrcela has found his way home to play for Perth Glory.
The Glory further signalled their intention of challenging for the Hyundai A-League title with the signing of defender Mrcela from Korean outfit Jeannam Dragons this month.
The 195cm central defender put pen to paper on a two-year deal and has already linked up with his new teammates for pre-season.
Mrcela (27) said new head coach Tony Popovic was the catalyst for him joining Glory.
“Biggest reason I’m here is because of Popovic,” Mrcela said. “When I spoke to him and what he presented to me about the goals and objectives for this year, I want to be part of that.”
“We know him, he wants the best and he wants to win trophies; he is going to give us the biggest goal of playing as a team and improving from last season.”
Mrcela is one of four key off-season arrivals to Glory, joining Ivan Franjic, Brendon Santalab and Matthew Spiranovic.
Mrcela has been on the fringe of selection for the Australian national team in the past, including in 2015 when he was named in a 23-man squad for two World Cup qualifying matches against Kyrgyzstan.
The West Australian is hopeful that his move to Perth will boost his future chances for national duties.
“For sure, one of the reasons coming here is not just becoming a better player but to be closer to the Socceroos squad,” Mrcela said. “I was once there, I enjoyed my time and it was a big experience and I want to feel that again.
“I think I’m a better player now and I believe that I’ll be a better player after this season.”
“For me, it’s important to stay healthy and play games; if we’re winning and I’m playing well then why not a call.”
Mrcela has spent most of his professional career in Croatia, turning out for clubs such as NK Mosor, NK Imotski, NK Hrvatski Dragovolijac and NK Lokomotiva Zagreb before he joined Jeannam in 2016, where he made 51 appearances and scored three goals.
Mrcela said Glory fans could expect positive results this year and he hoped that would mean high attendances at games.
“They can expect something new from the club, from the team and from the coaching staff; more success than previous seasons,” he said.
“I would like the fans to come watch us, support us as we try our best on the field and win games.”
July 23 shapes as the first opportunity to see Glory’s new signings in action when English FA Cup winners Chelsea FC come to Perth for a friendly at Optus Stadium.