Brisbane Roar midfielder Erik Paartalu has completed his expected move to Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda.
The 26-year-old was virtually unknown in Australia when then-Roar coach Ange Postecoglou signed him from Scottish First Division outfit Greenock Morton ahead of the 2010-11 A-League season.
But Paartalu made an immediate impact, playing every match of the campaign as Brisbane clinched the A-League title for the first time.
The Sydney-born midfielder wrote his name into Roar folklore in the Grand Final of the 2010-11 season, with his 120th-minute equaliser taking the match to penalties.
Brisbane eventually edged the Central Coast Mariners in a thrilling shootout that Paartalu also scored a spot-kick in.
And he backed it up last season, again being a regular in midfield as the Roar became the first side in the history of the competition to win back-to-back league titles.
Paartalu often played in a defensive midfield role, breaking down attacks, while he was also neat on the ball and had the ability to score spectacular goals.
He finishes his time with the Roar with 85 appearances in all competitions, in which he netted 10 strikes.
Paartalu – who signed a three-year deal with Brisbane when he arrived – was out of contract at the end of the season and his decision to move on was no surprise, with speculation lingering long before the move’s confirmation.
“Sad to go but new adventure awaits! Never forget the people of Brisbane! The lads, the staff it has been an honour to stand alongside you,” Paartalu posted on his Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon.
New Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey thanked Paartalu for his efforts at the club.
“The history books will always mark Erik’s on field contribution in helping secure Brisbane’s first two Championship trophies,” Mulvey said.
“He has been very professional in my time at the club
and shown a commitment in helping the club turn things around.
“He is moving on and we now need to concentrate on the players who remain at the club. We wish Erik all the best for his future.”
Paartalu will move to China shortly to begin pre-season training with Tianjin Teda, who will get their season underway in March.
Tianjin Teda finished eighth on the Chinese Super League table last season.