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Aug 19, 2008

Mark Bosnich signs deal with Mariners

Mark Bosnich, probably the most colourful figure in the history of Australian soccer, is set to light up the A-League after signing a seven-week contract with the Central Coast Mariners.

Six years on from his freefall into drug abuse and depression, the 36-year-old could pull on the gloves as soon as this Saturday night in a titanic clash with derby rivals Sydney FC that could potentially pack out Bluetongue Stadium.

It was originally expected Bosnich would sign a five-week contract beginning after this weekend to coincide with regular goalkeeper Danny Vukovic's five-week ban for striking a referee.

But the contract has been extended to include both the Sydney FC match and the weekend after Vukovic's return - also at Bluetongue Stadium - against Wellington Phoenix on October 19.

With Vukovic still eligible, there is no guarantee Bosnich will take the field against Sydney but it would be an ideal time for the club to unveil their major coup in front of their home fans.

The Mariners will hold a press conference to officially announce the signing of Bosnich on Wednesday.

Vukovic has stated his support for the move, saying Bosnich will bring a lot to the club.

The 23-year-old has had a tough time dealing with his ban since the striking incident in the A-League grand final in February, admitting he was on the brink of depression as he struggled to overcome the reality of his Olympic dream being taken away.

Vukovic said Bosnich, who has been training with the Mariners for the last month, had been helping him overcome his issues and that the pair had become friends.

"He's always full of advice, not only with goalkeeping but in life in general," Vukovic said.

The A-League got off to a relatively dull start last weekend, with just five goals across four games and three draws.

The injection of a personality - and unquestionable talent - like Bosnich could be just the lift the competition needs.

The one time Manchester United and Aston Villa star saw his English Premier League career come to a dramatic halt in 2002 when he received a nine-month ban for cocaine use and was subsequently sacked by Chelsea.

He would never be far away from the public eye, as his turbulent relationship with English supermodel Sophie Anderton, weight and drug issues and sex tape controversies made him a popular target for the English tabloids.

The former Socceroo, capped 17 times between 1993 and 2000, started his career revival in early 2007 at Queens Park Rangers under the guidance of his former Chelsea team-mate Ed de Goey.

Bosnich lost 15kg and regained his mobility and would eventually keep a clean sheet during a 2-0 friendly win against Barnet behind closed doors.

Late last month he impressed during a trial with the Mariners in the A-League pre-season cup, with a penalty stop one of a number of spectacular saves he made in a 3-0 win against Sydney FC.

He had been in talks with last season's grand finalists since.

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