Monday, 11 April 2011
333 Leo Bertos
Position : Winger (also played up front)
Played : 2003-04 to 2004-05
Appearances : 82
Goals : 13
Leo was signed in the summer after been released by Barnsley for whom he'd made 12 appearances over three seasons scoring 1 goal. He was born in Wellington and spent three years playing for Wellington Olympic before trying his luck in England.
Apart from a good strike in the 9-0 thrashing of Radcliffe he didn't look very convincing in pre-season but came good as soon as things got serious. He had an unorthodox style as he wasn't particularly quick and seemed to show defenders too much of the ball but his close control got him past them. He had a good eye for goal and was just one off being joint top scorer in his first season. In October he made his debut for New Zealand becoming our third international and the first to start a game. In November he was the star man when we dumped Bury out of the FA Cup.In late December he went off to play for NZ in a series of World Cup qualifiers and returned to find his old Barnsley boss Steve Parkin back in charge. Leo kept his place and with Paddy McCourt out of favour he shouldered the burden of being our only real creative player. When we signed Neil Redfearn he seemed to pass exclusively to Leo. Leo responded with some absolutely crucial goals none more so than the one at Kidderminster which preserved our League status.
It irks me a bit that he's not more celebrated for that. Perhaps certain people don't like the fact that it was one of Buckley's players that did it . You can be certain that if it had been Gary Jones we'd never have heard the end of it. Still, it ensured Leo another year's contract but 2004-05 was a frustrating season for him. Parkin's aversion to wingers now re-surfaced and Leo was often forced to play as a striker in a three upfront formation in which he never looked comfortable. He scored his last goal at Yeovil in January and you could see his enthusiasm draining away as the season progressed.
That said he played in 42 games and there was some surprise at his release. He went to Chester (making a late substitute appearance against us at their place in October) but failed to impress and only made 5 appearances. Leo seemed to have lost interest in the game and the rest of his career in England was a series of short unproductive spells at York, Barrow, Scarborough and Worksop. In 2006 he caught a plane to Australia and signed for Perth Glory. He had two years there before signing for Wellington Phoenix and becoming their player of the year in his first season. He is still with them, under contract until 2012. He has played 39 times for New Zealand and played in all three of their games in the 2010 World Cup but has still to score for them.