HAMILTON Olympic have won the race to sign New Zealand international and A-League veteran Leo Bertos for the 2016 Northern NSW National Premier League season.
Olympic coach Michael Bolch announced the signing on Saturday, ending speculation about where the right midfielder would be playing locally.
Bertos was a regular at Newcastle Jets training up until recent weeks as he tried to maintain his fitness after returning from stints with Indian Premier League sides East Bengal and NorthEast United.
The former Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix player, who turns 34 in December, has family in the Hunter and was talking to multiple NPL clubs about playing in the region in 2016.
The recruitment of Bertos is a major coup for Hamilton, who finished third this year and lost to Edgeworth 2-0 in the grand final.
Bertos played 162 A-League games across eight seasons, starting with 35 for Perth from 2006-08. The rest were with Wellington, who he also played for between 1997 and 2000 in the New Zealand domestic competition.
He played 56 games for New Zealand from 2003 to 2013, including all three matches in the All Whites' undefeated run at the 2010 World Cup.
He also played in England between 2000 and 2006, starting at championship division club Barnsley before stints at lower league Rochdale, Chester City, York City and Scarborough.