Wangaratta star Adam Burchell will play the season out with the Goulburn Valley Suns in NPL 2.
The striker had a decorated three-and-a-half-year AWFA career, claiming the 2015 Star Player and the 2015 and 2017 leading goal-scorer awards, breaking the league’s all-time record with 51 last season.
Burchell will line up in his last home game at Wangaratta against Boomers on Sunday, with next weekend’s derby at Myrtleford set to be his last appearance before he heads to the Suns.
“At the start of the year, I wanted to give it one more crack with Wang, but the Visa spot (at the Suns) opened up again,” Burchell said.
“(Former Cobram star) Bill Marshall was their second Visa player and he’s become a resident now, so I couldn’t really say no because it might not be there next year.
“The club have always said they wouldn’t stand in my way if I wanted to test myself at a higher level and they’ve left the door open if I wanted to come back in future.”
“The club has helped me stand on my own two feet and I appreciate what they’ve done.
“I’d like to think for what they’ve done for me, I’ve repaid the favour with what I’ve done on the pitch, so it works both ways.
“I’ve played at a high level in England in League One and I expect the football to be a lot faster than AWFA.
“The facilities (at Shepparton) and the council is so soccer-driven, which was a big reason why I wanted to go there.”
Burchell played with and against a number of Suns players at Shepparton South when he first ventured to Australia in 2014.
Wangaratta coach Mario Antonello said the club is sad to see Burchell go, but is excited he’s taking the next step in his career.
“I don’t think anyone can argue, over the three-and-a-half years he’s had in AWFA, no-one has come close to the achievements he’s reached,” Antonello said.
“He was one of our Visa players and Stoycho (Ivanov) is due for permanent residency any week now, so you’d be silly to think we’re not going to top up our squad because we’ve essentially got two Visa spots to fill.”