DIMI Petratos is having the year of his life.
Fresh from the birth of son Vangeli in February and a Socceroos debut, Petratos made a clean sweep of the Newcastle Jets’ major awards at a gala presentation dinner at City Hall on Tuesday night.
The attacking midfielder received the Player Of the Year, Members’ Player of the Year, Ray Baartz Medal and shared the Golden Boot with Andrew Nabbout, who joined Japanese giant Urawa in March.
And the 25-year-old is not done yet.
Petratos is one of the leading contenders alongside Sydney pair Bobo and Adrian Mierzejewski and Melbourne Victory’s Leroy George for the Johnny Warren Medal.
More importantly, he hopes to help the Jets win an A-League title and earn a place in the 23-man Socceroos squad for the World Cup in Russia in June.
“There is no doubt that the national coach will be looking at him,” Jets coach Ernie Merrick said. “He has already played a game for the Socceroos and I would love to see him go to Russia.”
In a major boost, Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna announced at the awards’ dinner that Merrick and captain Nigel Boogaard had agreed to a one-year contract extensions.
Merrick will be at the the club at least until the end of the 2019-20 season.
Boogaard, who is hoping to recover from injury in time for the grand final qualifier, will again lead the side next year.
“Ernie has done a fantastic job and deserves enormous credit,” McKinna said. “His continued commitment gives us stability and the platform to continue the club’s growth.”
Petratos has added a new dimension to a Jets attack that has scored 57 goals, more than the two previous seasons combined.
He opened his account in the first round and finished the regular season with 10 goals to go with 11 assists and a league-high 62 shot assists.
“Ten goals a season in this league is a very good level to get to,” Merrick said. “His work ethic has been terrific. He is one of our 13-kilometre players. Most players cover 10-11, maybe 11.5 in a game. He has just had a tremendous season, Dimi.”
Nabbout didn’t score a goal until round five and his 10-goal haul, which included a contender for goal of the year against Wanderers, came from just 22 games.
Petratos joined the Jets after a short stint in Korea at Ulsan Hyundai.
He won a championship at Brisbane Roar in 2014, but his contribution this season has far out-weighed that of previous campaigns.
Petratos’ rise has not come as a surprise to Merrick.
“I have high expectation of the players,” he said. “If you ask them to lift their game, give them targets and let them know what you think they are capable of, they will rise to that. There is a lot of positive re-enforcement and encouragement, and look where it has got us.”
Indeed, the Jets have set a number of club records this season. The 8-2 win over the Mariners is the biggest in history, the tally of 50 points is 14 more than the previous best and their 57 goals eclipsed the 38 goals scored in 2013-14 and included a run of 24 games with a goal.
“It has been a very good season … if we didn’t have a team like Sydney in the league, we might even have won the Premiers Plate,” Merrick said.
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