Filip Kurto has been labelled eccentric, a showman, a sarcastic diver and even a phantom saver.
For Wellington A-League coach Mark Rudan, the Polish goalkeeper stops shots by the bucketful and that’s all that matters.
As well as impressing Socceroos ‘keeping great Mark Bosnich with his quality this season, Kurto has captured an enthralled audience on social media over his theatrics between the posts.
A montage of clips can be found of Kurto throwing his body unnecessarily at shots going well wide of goal.
Resembling a goalkeeper in a second-rate computer game, the former Roda JC gloveman has made a habit of full-stretched acrobatics long after the ball has passed, to Rudan’s bemusement.
“I like characters; I really do. I think we’ve gone way too far the other way of players not being able to express themselves, not being who they are,” Rudan said.
“Initially when Filip did it, I questioned whether that was because of the amount of cameras. Are you trying to do this for your highlights reel or whatever the case may be?
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“He gave me his answer, which I won’t let you know, but it certainly has been a bit of fun for everyone else out there.” Rudan raised eyebrows when unveiling Kurto as one of his first marquee signings, a status rarely bestowed on goalkeepers.
The 25-year-old hasn’t let him down, with a handful of exceptional saves for the sixth-placed Kiwi club. His save rate of 75 per cent is fractionally behind the league-best tally of Adelaide United’s Paul Izzo.
Rudan said he didn’t want Kurto to fill the fashionable role of the modern stopper, to be capable with the ball at his feet.
“There’s a lot of talk about what goalkeepers should look like in this day and age. I’m a little bit old school in terms of the skill sets that are required,” he said.
“I want a goalkeeper who can stop the ball going in the back of the net. They wear gloves for a reason.” The Phoenix can stretch their unbeaten run to a club-record eight games on Saturday when they host bottom-placed Central Coast.
They will be buoyed by Wednesday night’s disciplinary committee outcome, with midfielder Mandi having his ban reduced from three matches to two after an appeal.
The committee suspended the third week of a ban originally handed down by the match review panel after the Spaniard was shown a straight red card for his reckless challenge two weeks ago on Adelaide United’s Vince Lia. Mandi will miss the Mariners match but will be available next week against Melbourne Victory.