Back in tip-top shape

Perth Glory stopper Aleks Vrteski is thrilled to be back in Western Australia and taking on 'best mate' Tando Velaphi for the No.1 goalkeeping position at the club after signing a new two year deal.

Perth Glory stopper Aleks Vrteski is thrilled to be back in Western Australia and taking on 'best mate' Tando Velaphi for the No.1 goalkeeping position at the club after signing a new two year deal.

The 20-year-old Australian junior representative has returned to his native Perth in tip-top condition after shedding 18 kilograms from his playing weight since the last time he suited up for the Glory two years ago.

Vrteski played eight matches for the Glory during the 2006-07 season before embarking on an overseas adventure where he spent two seasons developing in the Macedonian first division.

In a case of perfect timing the skilful young shot stopper arrived home a little over a fortnight ago and was presented with an opportunity to return to the Glory, one he took firmly with both hands.

"There is no other club in Australia I-d rather be playing for, “Vrteski said.

“Perth Glory was the team I supported growing up and I really enjoyed my time here a few years ago and I think being back is a great fit for me and hopefully it will be for the club also.

“The timing just worked out really well, Mitch has been great to give me the opportunity to come back and I just hope I can repay him as well. He's given me another chance to play for the club that I've grown up loving so I-m really excited to be back," he said.

Vrteski was just 17 when he first signed for Perth and admits he settled into a comfort zone that didn't help his development. The subsequent move overseas and a jolt from being away from home focussed his attention back on the football pitch and it has reaped outstanding rewards.

"When I went away I got a big wake up call," Vrteski said.

"I was told over there I did have to lose some weight, get myself right and I mean going away from home, being out of your comfort zone so to speak, you kind of wake up to yourself a bit.

"You learn a lot of things personally about yourself, not just as a footballer but also as a person.

"I worked hard, got myself right and played a good season-and-a-half."

Vrteski said he has enjoyed mixing with both the old and new faces at the club and immediately felt the intensity amongst the group to achieve success on the pitch this season.

Perth Glory now boasts two of the best young keepers in the league with Vrteski and Velaphi sharing more than just a surname starting with ‘V-. The pair are close friends and see the opportunity of training together and battling for the number one spot as the perfect way to break new ground in their goal keeping development.

"I don't look at it necessarily as competition to be honest," Vrteski said.

"He's one of my best mates. I've grown up with him and it's more a case of both of us getting better as we go on, wherever we play.

“The more competition we have on the training pitch the better we-ll be in the game and in the end that-s what it is all about. We-re both desperate to see the club do well and whoever is out there will be doing a great job and getting the support of the other person.”