The Player, the person – Valentino Yuel


Fortune favours the brave.

And Jets striker, Valentino Yuel is as brave as they come.

Being released by Western United at the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign, Yuel’s future in professional football seemed incredibly bleak.

But through perseverance and long hours on the pitch, he ensured that his footballing journey wasn’t over.

“I went back home and put my head down because I knew what I needed to do, I knew I was good enough and I knew the level I needed to be at all the time,” Yuel said.

A lifeline from Jets coach Craig Deans in the form of a trial was nothing short of deserved for the athletic striker who has endured a lifetime of setbacks.

Yuel’s journey is one of sheer courage and determination.

It began from the moment he was born.

Of South-Sudanese descent, Yuel was born in Kenya.

At a young age, his family fled to Australia in search of a better life, as civil-war ravaged through his homeland.

A big change, but one that would go on to shape the footballer Yuel is today.

“It was daunting at the start. I couldn’t speak English,” he said.


“But as time progressed, I got used to it, I started school, learnt the language and picked up everything pretty quick.”

Yuel’s passion for football was quickly found and he attributes the world game for his quick development in his new environment.

“Football played a part as well because when you’re on the football pitch, football is the only language you need to speak.” Yuel said.

Progressing quickly through the ranks in Adelaide, Yuel’s speed and technical ability impressed coaches and he was handed his senior football debut for the Adelaide Comets at age 16.

Yuel spent years perfecting his craft in the Adelaide NPL before he was handed his big break when Western United came knocking.

Yuel’s goal-scoring ability attracted the A-league’s newest club and they saw potential in bringing him off the wing, deploying him through the middle.

“I was scoring a lot of goals, so they tried converting me to a number 9 and the transition was tough, the players are a lot stronger, a lot fitter, and sharper,” Yuel said.

The transition wasn’t a smooth one and Yuel struggled to find his feet in his new role.

“I struggled a little bit, but I knew I was good enough to play at this level,” he added.

“Having that one-year contract I really pushed to get another contract, they told me I was close but at the end of the day I didn’t get the contract.”

For a man who has had a life of adversity, this was just the next chance to prove himself.


Yuel’s confidence in his own ability to get back to the highest level never wavered and his resilient mentality fast-tracked his journey.

“I like to prove myself right, or prove other people wrong,” he said.

“For me, it’s all about self-belief and confidence, and you develop that through training, if you don’t train, and you say your low on confidence well then you haven’t put in the work.”

In a bid to give back to the game that has given him so much, Yuel has launched his own academy ‘Tech X’, where he shares his knowledge of the game with the next generation.

“I enjoy the game so sharing my knowledge that I have learnt over the years is great for me,” Yuel said.

“I’m very passionate about doing that, and coaching, and passing on knowledge.”


With another year on his contract at the Newcastle Jets, Yuel will continue to work on his game.

He is intent on playing finals football and committed to improving his craft.

“My ambitions are to be the best footballer that I can be, on the training ground as much as I can, always demanding the most of myself, and to deliver on the weekends as well,” he said.

“I want us to be playing finals next year. It comes down to determination, and we need to prove that, starting now.”