Teenage Socceroos phenom Garang Kuol called it “unreal” after signing a lucrative multi-year deal with English Premier League giants Newcastle United that will make him one of Australia’s best paid footballers.
The 18-year-old completed his deal in England having been picked up by the EPL club despite never having made a start for the Central Coast Mariners in his seven appearances, all last season.
He flew straight to the UK after making his electric Socceroos debut in Auckland last Sunday against New Zealand, becoming the youngest to play for Australia since Harry Kewell and has put the World Cup in Qatar on his agenda
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“It’s unreal,” Kuol said in a statement released by the club.
“As a young boy in Australia, the Premier League is the main thing that everyone watches, but nobody actually thinks they’ll reach those heights. To be one of those people, to be in the position I am, it’s amazing.
“Now that I’ve signed for Newcastle, I want to train hard, play hard, hopefully go to the World Cup and come back here.”
Kuol, who will join Newcastle in January, only made his Mariners last December in the FFA Cup, aged just 17, and went on to score four goals in his first seven appearances as a substitute in the A-League.
The Mariners will reportedly receive a transfer fee of $500,000 from Newcastle, but with the promise of much more to come through sell-on clauses and other bonus triggers.
It’s understood Kuol was also being courted by Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and could start on loan to a European club at some stage next year.
Kuol said he’d be inspired by the previous Australians to play in the EPL, but now he wanted to surpass them.
“The dream is to play Premier League consistently and hopefully surpass everyone in Australia,” he said.
Born in Egypt, Kuol moved to Australia with his family as a refugee and joined the Mariners in 2021.
Kuol was lauded by Socceroos coach Graham Arnold after his 18-minute spell off the bench against the All Whites in Auckland last Sunday.
But he wouldn’t be drawn on whether it would be enough to earn Kuol a spot in the Australian squad for the World Cup in Qatar in November.
“He’s a kid, he’s just turned 18. I told him just to go out and enjoy himself,” Arnold said.
“I just wanted to give him the experience. He showed some quality when he came on, but this is just the first step for him.”
Newcastle United sporting director, Dan Ashworth, said: “Garang is a very promising young talent and we are excited that he‘ll be continuing his development as a Newcastle United player.
“Our philosophy is to invest in our Academy and in exciting young players for the future, as well as in players required to make an immediate impact in the first team.
“We wish Garang the best of luck in his remaining games with Central Coast Mariners and we hope to see him on the international stage again very soon.”