Coast star jets off

JASON Culina and father Branko are confident family ties will not present any problems when the pair reunite at the Newcastle Jets next A-League season.

The Jets yesterday officially announced the signing of the 30-year-old Socceroos midfielder after he was allowed out of the final year of his deal with Gold Coast United.

Jason got his start in senior football as a teenager under Branko 15 years ago in the National Soccer League with Sydney United.

Much has changed since then, with Culina forging an esteemed career in Europe and developing into a Socceroos mainstay, but the player is confident there won’t be any special treatment when he arrives next season.

“It is going to be different,” he said.

“It is very important that I’m treated like any other player, no special treatment and nor do I want that.

“I’m here to do a job to the best of my ability and my dad is here to do the same.

“We both look forward to the challenge and are both excited by it.”

Branko said his son would have to fight for a position in the team like any other player but believed he would clearly be an asset to the side, which narrowly missed out on making this year’s finals.

“Jason’s football should do the talking,” Branko said.

“We have worked together previously.

“We’re talking about a long time ago when he was a teen-ager. We are now talking about a footballer who has now played in two World Cups, a current Socceroo who has played 58 times for Australia.

“I’d rather be coaching Jason than playing against him.”

Culina has signed on as the Jets’ Australian marquee player, meaning the cashed-up club can still bring in a foreign player as a regular marquee player.

Jets football advisory board chairman and former Socceroo Ray Baartz said Culina’s signing was evidence the club was taking things to a new level.

“We needed a player that could create and score goals,” Baartz said.

“We looked at various players ... the best player in Australia to do that is Jason (Culina).”

Culina has not played for Gold Coast since aggravating an existing knee problem at last month’s Asian Cup and will miss Sunday’s sudden-death showdown with Adelaide.

Gold Coast will take on Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium after last weekend’s upset 1-0 win over two-time champions Melbourne Victory.



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