WESTERN Sydney Wanderers boss John Tstasimas praised departed skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley after the central defender officially signed with UAE Pro League’s Hatta Club.
Mr Tstatsimas confirmed the club gave the 31-year-old permission to fly to the Middle East in order to complete the lucrative deal last Friday after four successful seasons at Wanderland.
“Nikolai was a consummate professional on and off the pitch. His dedication did not just exist at the training ground and on game days, but to the philosophy at the core of our club,” he said.
“He was a core part to our successes both domestically and internationally and his efforts earned him wide praise including a Socceroos call-up and many plaudits from our members and his peers.”
Topor-Stanley played 125 games for the Wanderers and was one of the club’s maiden signings when the Red and Black entered the A-League in 2012.
The ex Socceroos defender formed part of a hard-nosed Wanderers defence that laid the platform for a number of successes in Tony Popovic’s tenure as coach, including a minor premiership in the club’s debut season, three grand final appearances and a historic AFC Asian Champions League crown in 2014.
“In football, opportunities such as this rarely come around and when it was presented to me I knew that it was something I had to explore,” Topor-Stanley said in a statement.
“I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the club for allowing me to pursue this opportunity both from a personal and professional level. I have always wanted to test myself overseas and this is a great chance for me to experience a different culture in life and in football.
“It has been an honour and a humbling experience to be able to say I was and am a part of the history of this club and I will always hold that close to my heart.”
With a number of central defenders on its books for the 2016/17 season, it is believed the Wanderers had previously tried to offload Topor-Stanley and had made it clear to other A-League clubs that he was available in the off-season.
The fan favourite said the club’s relationship with its supporters was “magical”.
“This club belongs to anyone who wants to be involved. It transcends gender, racial and cultural background and to me epitomises what Australia is all about. To all the members and fans that support this team I would like to thank you all for everything we have shared,” he said.
“Football has an unpredictable nature and although it is goodbye for now you never know when our paths might cross again.”