The Kiwi midfielder have reportedly joined the Hunters as he anticipate a new football challenge. In 2013, a young Matt Ridenton was handed his first test of professional football by then Wellington tactician Ernie Merrick. Five years later, the two characters are teaming up again with Merrick playing a crucial role in convincing the 22yr old to leave his club New Zealand and join Newcastle jets. After five seasons with the Australian A-league football team Phoenix, Ridenton have flown under the radar of the Australian top flight division but have been a consistent performer for the club during their turbulent years. Ridenton though grateful for the chances offered to him by the club feels that the time to seek for greener pastures is now. “Wellington was great, got my first professional contract there actually under Ernie and obviously had a few different managers over the last few years, but I learnt a lot there and grew a lot as a person on and off the pitch,” Ridenton told Goal. “Really enjoyed my time there, but just felt the time was right now to try a new challenge.”
That challenge becomes a high flying Jets team that overcame few seasons of disappointment last season to finish second in the table before going to lose the grand finals to Melbourne victory. Newcastle despite losing the last finals has higher odd to lift the trophy according to 10bet.co.uk in the 2018/2019 football season. Merrick had been key contributor to the change in the club fortune since his arrival. The former Wellington boss have been key to the acquisition to Matt Ridenton with the player willing to play under his former boss. “It made the decision easier because you know what sort of environment you’re going into and the football that Ernie likes to play it’s obviously very attacking…I think that’ll suit how I play,” he said. “To play under him again was always going to make the transition a bit easier. He really encourages you on the ball, to always look forward and play forward when you can”. “I think he always get the best out of his players as you saw last year with the team in the attacking third and that’s an area of my game I want to develop – to score more goals and hopefully go forward more this season”. “The Jets had a really good season last year which is very positive for the club and moving forward they’ve got a lot of growth to come and I’m just happy to be a part of it”.
Ridenton prefers to feature in the central midfield role but have been deployed on the left wing of attack as well as in the Number 10 position in the Jets pre-season games.
Despite departing from New Zealand, All Whites remains on firmly on Ridenton’s mind having made international debut as an 18yr old with 4 caps to his name. “Growing up as a New Zealander that’s one of your highest goals as a footballer,” he said.
“Don’t think I’ve established myself just yet at international level and that’s another goal of mine to become more regular in the national team”.
“Now that it’s in a new World Cup cycle, I’m really looking to make my mark in the national team as well.”