So New Zealand international striker Shane Smeltz has returned to Gold Coast United for the remainder of the 2010/11 season having been released by his Turkish club, Genclerberligi, in what is good news for Gold Coast United, but bad news for the player’s career.
Smeltz has shown that he has the knack of finding the back of the net in the Hyundai A league, winning last season’s Golden Boot with 19 goals. Prior to that in his first season in the A League at Wellington Phoenix he finished second in the Golden Boot race with nine goals in 19 appearances. In the 2008–09 season, he scored a record equalling 12 goals for the club, resulting in the A-League Golden Boot 2008/09. He also won goal of the season for his winning strike against Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium in round 13.
There is no doubt that Smeltz is at home in the A league, but with two aborted moves overseas in the last twelve months, one to China and one to Turkey, it is unlikely now that no matter how many times he finds the back of the net, and overseas club will be tempted to sign him.
It is sad that despite changes in coach, a new assistant coach and a new general manager at Genclerberligi, and no doubt the frustration of not being in the starting eleven, Smeltz was not prepared to tough it out a little longer. Four months does not in football terms constitute giving it a real go.
Smeltz however could be a real gain for the A league. He could become the A League’s Damian Mori, another Australian player who excelled domestically, but was unable able to break in overseas when he had a spell in Germany.
No matter how good a salesman his agent may be would you take a punt on a player who quit China after 5 days and then Turkey in four months? Saying that, an English speaking nation may prove less of a problem in terms of the player’s acclimatisation. Although after spells with Mansfield Town, AFC Wimbledon and Halifax Town he has already had a shot in England. Sometimes though managers need to look at the personality of the player rather than the dollar signs to find the country and club that is the best fit for their client. It would appear that this has not been the case with Shane Smeltz.