Max Mata signs for Sligo Rovers

Sligo Rovers are thrilled to announce the signing of striker Max Mata from US outfit Real Monarchs for the 2022 season.

Mata, 21, has been capped by New Zealand and has previous experience in Europe with Swiss side Grasshopper and a loan spell with Estonian outfit Nomme Kalju.

The striker had a prolific run of form with Kalju, scoring nine times in 11 league starts and playing in their Europa League qualifier against Celtic.

His overall record was 12 goals in 20 appearances. During that spell he was a team-mate of former Rovers player Sander Puri.

Having shone at academy level in New Zealand as a youngster, he joined Wellington Phoenix where his form in the reserve league and appearing in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with New Zealand led to an initial move to Grasshopper.

At 20 he joined the Monarchs in the USL Championship, the second tier of the US, in 2021 and scored twice in 11 starts.

His international debut came against Lithuania as he appeared as a substitute along with recent Rovers signing Nando Pijnaker.

He joins subject to work permit and international clearance.

Mata said: “I’m very happy to join Sligo Rovers. When the chance came up I didn’t have to think long about it. I want to play games and I want to score goals and Ireland was very appealing. I’ve played in Europe before and done well and I definitely think I can do it again.

“I enjoyed the experience in America last season, with a regret of not playing as much as I would have liked. I’m very motivated to come to Sligo, play games and score goals.

“I don’t think integration will be a problem being an English-speaking country. I’m excited to experience the League of Ireland and play here.

“It’s just a matter of being focused and I’ll be totally committed to succeeding here.

“Sligo Rovers have been doing well in Ireland, I’ve spoken with the coach about what he wants the team to be and it all added up to me wanting to be in Sligo and achieving both my own targets and those of the team.”

One familiar face for Mata will be Pijnaker as the duo link up again.

“I was with Nando in Switzerland and with New Zealand obviously so it’ll be a help for sure. It’ll also be good for settling into training and the team so that’s great. I’m looking forward to meeting all my team-mates and making my debut as soon as I can.”

Manager Liam Buckley said: “We’re delighted to get Max. He’s another really good footballer and a forward player to compliment Aidan Keena, Jordan Hamilton and Cillian Heaney who has done well this pre-season.

“He’s done well in Europe beforehand. From a career point of view he’s on the up and we can see how driven he is and how much he wants to do well in the game.

“He’s still only 21 and played in the USL Championship last season so he’s coming here with good experience already.

“He’s most certainly a number nine and can also play in a two. It’s good to have that option. Max is in a very good physical condition, and it’ll just be about getting him up to speed from a match point of view and settling into the league. Both Jordan and Max will be with us this week hopefully and be part of training before the Bohemians game.

“The squad is close to completion but we remain in the market certainly. There are players out there who are of interest. It’s important to have a squad to get us through the season and that it is balanced. It’s a long season with 40+ games in all competitons and we want to make sure we’re covered.

“Bringing in Nando, Jordan and Max really compliments the players we have at our disposal. I’m happy with where we’re at, the players are working very hard to be ready for Saturday night and we’re looking forward to getting underway and particularly in front of our own supporters on Saturday night.”