MARK Birighitti conceded it was ‘‘time to move on’’ after securing a six-month loan deal at Italian Serie B club AS Varese.
As revealed by the Newcastle Herald , the Jets keeper will fly to Italy on Tuesday, bringing an end to his three-year stay in the Hunter.
The 23-year-old has not played for the Jets since being usurped by Ben Kennedy in round eight.
‘‘I have enjoyed my time in Newcastle, but due to circumstances here at the club, it is time to move on,’’ Birighitti said.
‘‘I have always wanted to play at the highest level in Europe.
‘‘This is a step towards that.
‘‘Everywhere in European football is a dog-eat-dog world but I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’– MARK BIRIGHITTI
‘‘It has been a good ride in Newcastle but it’s time for me to try and further my career.
‘‘It is a six-month loan deal with an option to buy.
‘‘Once I get there I hope to break into the first team straight away.’’
Birighitti, who has an Italian passport, was a member of the Socceroos training squad in the lead-up to the World Cup last year.
Frustrated by a lack of game time, he engaged European-based agent and former Socceroo Vinnie Grella, who also stitched a deal for former Jets teammate Josh Brillante at Fiorentina, to try to find a new home before the end of the transfer window in a week.
‘‘I am grateful that Vince has given me an opportunity and found me a club,’’ Birighitti said. ‘‘Now it is in my hands where I take my football career here.
‘‘I’m looking forward to the challenge.
‘‘It is a small club in a great league in Italy just outside of Milan.
‘‘It will be hard going to Italy. They live and breathe football.
‘‘Everywhere in European football is a dog-eat-dog world but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
‘‘Varese is near Milan and close to the village where my dad’s parents are from.
‘‘I have a lot of family there which will make the transition easier.’’
AS Varese sit second bottom on 23 points and are in danger of relegation.
They have three goalkeepers on their books – 23-year-old Filippo Perucchini, Cosima La Gorga (20) and trainee Andrea Seveso (17).
‘‘There is still a lot of football to be played,’’ Birighitti said.
‘‘There is something like 40 to 50 games including cup games.
‘‘I just want to get over there, knuckle down and crack the first team.’’
Birighitti is in his third season in Newcastle.
Recruited by Gary van Egmond, the Perth-born gloveman was the Jets’ player of the year in his maiden season, earned a national team call-up in his second, played for the A-League All Stars against Juventus and was poised to joined Bayer Leverkusen until a change of manager at the Bundesliga club.
Since that disappointment, the ambitious gloveman has struggled for form and confidence.
He started this season as the Jets’ No.1 but was dropped after a series of unconvincing performances.
Kennedy inked a new two-year deal last week.
‘‘I have a lot of fond memories from my time in Newcastle,’’ Birighitti said.
‘‘It is a great place.
‘‘The playing group is really close.
‘‘They are a good bunch of boys, just struggling for results.’’
Birighitti has 18 months to run on his Jets contract and was ‘‘thankful’’ to the club for ‘‘giving me the opportunity to go overseas’’.
Youth team keeper John Solari is expected to be promoted to back up Kennedy.
The Newcastle Herald understands that Perth Glory No.2 and former Jet Jack Duncan is keen to return to the Hunter.