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Durante named Wellington Phoenix skipper
18:47 AEST Thu Jul 17 2008
Durante has been named captain of Wellington Phoenix.
Andrew Durante has taken over as skipper of Wellington Phoenix from Ross Aloisi, who has retired.

Former Newcastle defender Andrew Durante is aiming for a top four spot after being appointed captain of Wellington Phoenix in his first season with the A-League club.

Durante takes over from fellow Australian Ross Aloisi whose retirement was hastened by a back injury which kept him out of a number of games in the New Zealand club's debut season last year.

Three vice-captains were named to support Durante - former Socceroo Jon McKain, midfielder Richard Johnson and All Whites captain, Tim Brown.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the core group of four players in leadership roles offered a huge advantage to the Phoenix.

"Andrew's got plenty of experience and leadership qualities we've identified over the last three months. He's someone the players can look up to and respect," Pignata said.

"And all three vice-captains can contribute in different facets - they've all played at the highest level."

Durante helped Newcastle to a 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in last season's A-league grand final.

McKain, 25, is a former Australian under-20, under-23 and senior representative with 12 caps for the Socceroos.

Johnson, 33, has played 35 A-League matches for the Jets and Knights, as well as making 242 appearances for English club Watford between 1991-2003.

Midfielder Brown filled the vice-captain's role with the Phoenix last season, also taking the field with the captain's armband despite a frustrating run of injuries.

Durante said it was "a huge honour" to captain the Phoenix.

"This club's heading in a positive direction and hopefully me and the other three boys can push this team to a top four and maybe even a title," he said.

It is Durante's first stint as captain, and an opportunity he relishes.

"When I was younger I captained a few teams, but never as a professional, so it's a new challenge for me.

"A captain has to lead by performance, so hopefully I'm consistent this year and lead by example on the park."

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert described Durante's leadership role as a real bonus for the club.

"He brings a very professional approach on and off the pitch - he's a very balanced person, and somebody I know who has the respect of the players.

"He's got a good footballing history, been successful in a grand final, so we're covered in all areas by my thinking."

Herbert said the appointment of three vice-captains should be looked at from a long-term perspective.

"This is a club appointment, as far as how the club views moving forward as opposed to a short-term appointment... We've got people who are going to bring a great skill set to the club on and off the pitch."