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Jan 15, 2009

Gold Coast United talking up roster

Even Liverpool's faithful at Anfield have heard about Socceroos star Jason Culina joining new A-League club Gold Coast United, thanks to extrovert coach Miron Bleiberg.

But the brash 2009-10 newcomers reckon you ain't seen nothing yet.

"The players you don't know (on their roster) are probably better than the players you do know that we've signed in the team," Gold Coast owner, billionaire Clive Palmer said.

"We've ensured we've got the cream of the cream coming to the Gold Coast."

Luring a Socceroo in the prime of his career back to Australia has sent a buzz through the A-League - and all the way back to England if Bleiberg has his way.

"When I was overseas two or three weeks ago I had the honour of watching him play (for PSV Eindhoven) at Anfield, no less, against Liverpool in the European Champions League - the pinnacle of every footballer," Bleiberg said.

"I was proud to sit with people and I say `you know this guy on the field, next year he is going to play under me at Gold Coast United'."

Hardly satisfied, Palmer hinted that there was a looming announcement of "another international".

But the mining magnate reckons he already has three players on the books that have the potential to supercede Culina in the popularity stakes - Brazilians Milson, Jefferson and Robson.

It should all be taken with a grain of salt - after all Palmer believes the club will not only win the premiership on debut but also do it undefeated.

But clearly Palmer is excited.

"Some of our best players you haven't seen yet - that's our boys from Brazil," he said.

"Robson will excite the A-League absolutely and Jefferson is nearly as good as Mr Culina."

The signings were the result of yet another overseas sojourn from the high-flying Bleiberg.

Armed with a Gold Coast United brochure - titled "Queensland's Premier Football Club" - detailing the club's benefits including Palmer's "personal fleet of aircraft", Bleiberg clearly wowed the wide-eyed Brazilians.

"Unlike a lot of people that buy players through video or brochures, courtesy of Clive I went to Brazil - it wasn't first class but I enjoyed it anyway," Bleiberg said.

"I roll up my sleeves, left my watch and wallet at the hotel safe so I wouldn't get robbed, put on my plastic watch and $20 in my sock and went to all these dark places and watched the football at Brazil.

"They didn't come here for the money. They came here for the game because we sold them the Gold Coast - and also it would be the aeroplanes I have to admit."

While two vacancies still remain, Palmer is already finding it hard to keep track of his stars, namely exciting Queensland Roar recruit Tahj Minniecon.

"When you look at our strike power we've got (Shane) Smeltz, (Joel) Porter, Milson and we picked up that fella from the Roar," he said.

"Oh yeah Tahj, he's pretty good too."

But Bleiberg denied that Gold Coast United were the "Chelsea of the A-League".

"We are under the same salary cap as everyone else. We are still $100,000 under the cap," he said.

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