Central Coast boss Nick Montgomery took a swipe at rival A-League Men clubs for letting Vanuatu defender Brian Kaltak slip through their grasp after the Mariners tied him down until the end of the 2024-25 season. .
Kaltak has been one of the signings of the ALM season after initially joining the second-placed Mariners on an injury-replacement deal.
His rock-solid form led to him being awarded a new two-and-a-half-year contract on Wednesday as the Mariners chase their first title in 10 years.
At 29, the long-term deal is the first of Kaltak's career after he bounced around the semi-professional game in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
"It defies belief that no one took a chance on him before," Montgomery said.
"Brian deserves all the plaudits he has been given so far and has proved so many people wrong.
"That's what I love the most about him, and that's why he already has hero status at the club amongst the fans."