Joeys goalkeeper Michael Vonja will continue his outstanding career progression in the West, signing his first professional contract with Western United.
The 17-year-old has been a standout in the Western United Academy and has earned multiple selections for the Joeys in 2023.
Domestically, Vonja enjoyed a breakout season in NPL 2 Victoria, winning the Club Champion award in the Under 21’s and featuring prominently for the Under 23’s.
Like many of Western United’s young talents, Vonja is born and bred in the West and played his junior football with the likes of Caroline Springs George Cross FC and Green Gully SC.
On signing a professional deal with his hometown club, Vonja said it was a dream opportunity and highlighted the progression of a number of young players from the Western United Academy.
“I’m really excited to sign my first professional contract, I’m grateful for the opportunity the Club has given me and I will continue working hard,” he said.
“Working with Michael Theo as well as the senior team goalkeepers has really helped me mature and learn from their experiences and qualities.”
“I think seeing younger players come into the first team and sign professionally shows the belief and trust the Club has in the Academy. It creates a positive environment where players want to work hard, and I believe the team has a boosted desire to win and play well.”
Western United Head Coach John Aloisi said Vonja’s well-rounded qualities as a goalkeeper and his strength of character made him an exciting prospect for the Club.
“Michael has taken big steps in his game in our Academy set up, and a lot of credit must go to our coaches in that space who have done a fantastic job with all of our young players,” he said.
“A modern goalkeeper needs a multitude of qualities and Michael has everything in his locker – shot-stopping, distribution with both hand and foot as well as confidence and assuredness in each moment of the game.
“We are proud to have Michael in our ranks as a promising young player from the West who embraces our values, and we are looking forward to pushing him onto further success.”
Vonja is the first goalkeeper to come through the Western United Academy with a scholarship deal and will complement Tom Heward-Belle and Matt Sutton in the first team.
The youngster will continue his growth on and off the pitch with more opportunities at club and international level on the horizon.