MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Former Leeds and Liverpool winger Harry Kewell will play topflight football in Australia for the first time, agreeing to a deal Saturday with the A-League's Melbourne Victory.
The signing, terms of which were not immediately released, was made official on the team's website before a media conference .
It ends two months of prolonged negotiations with the Victory and A-League side Sydney after Kewell's contract expired with Turkish club Galatasaray.
Kewell, 32, had never before played in Australia's national league, leaving his hometown of Sydney in 1995 as a teenager to play in England with Leeds then Liverpool. He has played 54 games for Australia since 1996, scoring 16 goals.
Local media reported that Kewell's contract would be for three years. His management team had sought a bonus clause in his contract to reflect attendance increases when and where Kewell played, but it was not immediately known if that clause was included.
''I am proud to be Australian and want to give something back to the game there,'' Kewell said in a statement. ''It has always been my ambition to play in my home country and I am very pleased to have that opportunity by playing for Melbourne Victory.''
Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietros said Kewell will bring the ''the highest level of talent to the club for our supporters.''
''Harry is an Australian sporting icon and ... will attract more fans to football and boost greater interest and participation in the sport in Australia,'' he said. ''Our discussions with Harry have been progressing for some time and we are delighted to have completed what is the most significant signing in Australian football and A-League history.''
The presence of Kewell - widely regarded as the most talented Australian player of his generation - would be a welcome boost for the local league, which had been struggling to balance expansion plans against falling attendances.
He becomes the A-League's biggest star, following former Aston Villa and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke - who led Sydney to the first A-League title - and former Liverpool great Robbie Fowler, who played with North Queensland and Perth.
Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said Kewell's return was a ''red-letter day'' for the sport in the country.
''The signing of Harry Kewell tells the story of ambition, credibility and growth for the game in Australia,'' Buckley said. ''Harry is rightly acclaimed as Australia's most gifted footballer with a celebrated record of achievement. His homecoming will be hugely popular.''
The 32-year-old Kewell played for the Leeds United junior side for one year before joining the senior English team. He scored 45 goals in 181 senior appearances for Leeds before moving to Liverpool in 2003.
At Anfield, Kewell played 93 matches, including a winning Champions League final for the Reds, over six years and scored 12 goals. He moved to Galatasaray in 2008 and scored 23 goals in 61 matches.