Australia's A-League has unveiled its second big-name signing in less than a week, with Socceroos midfielder Brett Emerton leaving the Premier League to join Sydney FC.
Emerton had been heavily linked with a return to his hometown club at the end of this season, once his current deal with Blackburn Rovers had concluded, but the arrival of both Simon Vukcevic and George John has evidently allowed him to return home sooner.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Sydney's bitter rivals, Melbourne Victory, announcing they have secured the services of fellow national team member Harry Kewell for the next three seasons.
Emerton said the time was right to return to Australia as he begins a new three-year deal of his own with Sydney FC.
"This is an exciting opportunity for me," Emerton said. "I'm a Sydney boy and I'm looking forward to representing the people of Sydney every week and playing in front of friends, family and Sydney football fans.
"Football has been very good to me and I have always said I'd like to come back and play in the A-League while I still have something to offer and thanks to Sydney FC and Blackburn Rovers that opportunity has come about a bit earlier than I had thought."
Emerton will be home in time for Sydney FC's final pre-season game against Perth Glory, before taking on Kewell and the Victory in the opening round of the A-League on October 8.
Sydney FC vice-chairman Scott Barlow said: "The Sydney FC Board has for some time viewed the signing of Brett Emerton as a major priority.
"We have been fortunate that this has come to fruition a year earlier than we had anticipated after Brett requested, and was granted, a release from the last year of his contract with Blackburn.
"Brett is an incredible role model for all young footballers in Australia and his return to his home town of Sydney while he is still at the peak of his powers is a major coup for Sydney FC and the Hyundai A-League.
"We are committed to delivering the highest quality football experience we can to our fans and today's announcement is an important step towards this goal.''