Spanish players will continue to be attracted in increasing numbers to the Australian A-League, according to Wellington Phoenix's Tenerife-born midfielder Alex Rodriguez Gorrin.
It hasn't been a happy finals' series for the Australia's Spanish contingent with the Josep Gombau-coached Adelaide United losing 4-1 to Sydney FC in Saturday's semifinal -- with four Spanish nationals featuring for the Reds. Last weekend Rodriguez's Phoenix were also knocked out of the end-of-season competition with a 2-0 loss to Melbourne City.
But 21-year-old Rodriguez, a former Sunderland reserve team player, says that Australia is becoming an increasingly desirable destination for players from his homeland.
"It's a competitive league with a good standard of football and it's been a positive step for my career," Rodriguez said.
"I've been able to play with top players like Nathan Burns and Michael McGlinchey and have a good coach in Ernie Merrick who has won A-League championship and tells you exactly what he wants."
In Saturday's semifinal against Sydney, Adelaide United started with Spaniards Sergio Cirio, Isaias and Pablo Sanchez, with former Real Madrid winger Miguel Palanca coming off the bench. Reds coach Gombau is a former Barcelona youth team boss and led the club to victory in this season's inaugural FFA Cup.
Wellington Phoenix also have Barcelona-born midfielder Albert Riera on their books, in addition to Rodriguez, while David Villa, Spain's World Cup-winning striker, played four games as a guest player for Melbourne City at the end of 2014.
Rodriguez, who is vacationing in Singapore and Malaysia on his way back to Tenerife for the off-season, has another two years on his Wellington contract.
He made 21 appearances for Phoenix in the 2014-15 season and scored a memorable goal as the New Zealand side stunned West Ham United 2-1 in a pre-season friendly last July in the homecoming of Hammers' defender Winston Reid.
Rodriguez is managed by Tenerife-based Martin Tierney, an ex-Scottish professional who played in the Malaysia Super League and Singapore S.League. Tierney brought Rodriguez to Sunderland where he spent four years working his way up through the youth ranks before engineering his move to the A-League.
"For me it's been a great experience to get my first real taste of professional football after being a youth and reserve team player at Sunderland," Rodriguez said. "I've enjoyed facing up to other midfielders like [Socceroos] Mark Milligan and Terry Antonis.
"Wellington is colder than Tenerife but warmer than Sunderland. I'm looking forward to the next A-League season after a holiday in Singapore and Malaysia and an off-season break in Spain."