Nigerian Under-23 International Kelechi John Signs for Mariners

Central Coast Mariners have fought off interest from Portugal’s top tier and other European leagues to secure the signature of centre-back Kelechi John.

Kelechi John is a 23-year-old central defender whose footballing abilities are characterised by his height and strength. Standing at 1.91m, the Nigerian is very strong in the air and has a proficient tackling ability.

At just 23 years of age, Kelechi has plenty of potential and the signing reflects the club’s aim to recruit and develop top young players.

Kelechi John has played much of his football in Portugal after starting his career in the Nigerian Professional Football League. He arrived in Portugal in 2016 where he joined the youth team of top division side Rio Ave FC. The defender had a fruitful time at the club earning a nomination for best player of the season as well as a call-up to the Nigerian Under-23 side.

In season 2019/20, John was transferred to Portuguese side Casa Pia AC where he played 63 professional games and recently helped the team earn promotion to the Portuguese top flight for the first time in their history.

Kelechi John’s performances and potential drew attention from clubs across Europe but fortunately due to the Mariners’ strong scouting network, together with the belief in the club’s project to develop and nurture players so they reach their maximum potential, we were able to convince the defender to join the Central Coast.

Head Coach Nick Montgomery was pleased to secure the defender’s signature.

“Kelechi is a fast, powerful central defender who we tracked for a while through our scouting network and knowledge of the Portuguese league. Whilst he had offers from other clubs in Portugal and across Europe, we were able to convince him to join the Mariners,” said Montgomery.

“He has big ambitions and we hope to help him develop into a top player who can reach his potential. While still young, he will bring great experience to the squad as well as competition for places in defence.”

Central Coast Mariners kick off the 2022/23 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign at home to Newcastle Jets on Saturday, October 8th.

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