Lopez returns to Costa Rica

Jose Luis Lopez has mutually ended his loan spell with Melbourne Victory, allowing the midfielder to return to Costa Rica in hope of reclaiming his national team spot ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Jose Luis Lopez has mutually ended his loan spell with Melbourne Victory, allowing the midfielder to return to Costa Rica in hope of reclaiming his national team spot ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Lopez, 28, signed a two-year deal in 2008 but will return to Costa Rican giant Deportivo Saprissa on Saturday, having played 18 matches for Melbourne Victory, including a substitute appearance in the club-s Grand Final win earlier this year.

“My time here was perfect, from the first time I got here, I enjoyed every moment on and off the pitch,” Lopez said.

“I-m looking forward to going back, not because I want to, but because I need to.

“I need to get to the World Cup.”

Costa Rica is currently placed first in the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying, with the top three teams from the group of six to progress directly to next year-s FIFA World Cup.

Costa Rica has five qualifiers remaining to secure a ticket to South Africa and Lopez, who captained his country at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup, is determined to fulfill a lifelong ambition.

“It-s a dream of mine to be in the World Cup,” Lopez added.

“I-ve been in every single FIFA tournament from the under 20 World Cup, but I haven-t accomplished my goal of being in the World Cup.

“I couldn-t make it in 2006 because I was injured and I think this is my last chance.

“I used to be a regular for the national team, but because the league here ended in March I haven-t been playing.

“I didn-t get called for Costa Rica-s last two games, so that made me think about staying or leaving.

“It-s not something that I want - I would love to stay, but it-s the best thing for my career because I need some game time and my aim is to get to the World Cup.”

Melbourne Victory Football Operations Manager Gary Cole paid tribute to Lopez, who will rejoin Costa Rica-s most successful club ahead of the new Primera Division de Costa Rica season, which begins next month.

“Jose has been fantastic to deal with and returns to Costa Rica with our full blessing,” Cole said.

“He is a model professional both on and off the field and it was great to have him as part of Melbourne Victory.

“He needs to be playing regularly and has a desire to play at the World Cup and we don-t want to stand in his way of achieving that.”