Dani Sanchez: Wellington’s unexpected hero

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Spanish midfielder Dani Sanchez arrived in windy Wellington on the lookout for an A-League contract after being released by Scottish first division side Inverness after two seasons. He needed a new club and a new beginning.

When Wellington Phoenix came knocking, he headed to the New Zealand capital for a one-month trial. Within two hours of stepping off the plane, he was playing in a trial match against lower division club Miramar Rangers.

Eleven days later he scored his first goal for Wellington against the New Zealand Under-20s in a trial match. His good form continued in the following trial matches, scoring goals against Melbourne Heart and Team Wellington.

He did enough to impress manager Ricki Herbert and was rewarded with a one-year contract.

It turned out to be a successful decision for the club, as Sanchez made the attacking midfielder position his own. In 18 appearances, he has scored five goals and has many assists to his name already. Aside from scoring goals, he provides opportunities for the strikers. With his excellent short passing ability, he may well be named the “A-League’s Fabregas”.

Averaging over 80 minutes per game, Sanchez overcame an injury cloud earlier in the season to regain his fitness. His efforts have played a part in lifting Wellington to fourth on the table, after many pundits predicted them to be lingering at the bottom.

After his performances over the season, Sanchez is sure to be an important player heading into the finals. As long as he keeps fit, along with the rest of the squad, Wellington could well be challenging for the title.

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