I’ve been coached by Stu throughout different age group New Zealand teams including two under 20 campaigns, 2008 Beijing Olympics and a short stint with Team wellington. Stu has helped me develop since the age of 16 and I’d recommend joining the Capital Kaizen Academy to help develop your football skills and achieve your goals.
I think it’s great that all the Capital Kaizen players have the opportunity to work hard on the field, get in the gym and build strength and power, as making sure you look after your body by eating the rights and recovering to be ready for your next session.
I am a professional footballer so I know how important these things are to achieve your dreams and goals of playing in the highest leagues in the world and representing NZ.
My Journey from kicking the ball around in the back yard to playing against the world’s best players and teams Ronaldinho, Fernando Torres, Andrea Pirlo……
When I was a little boy I dreamed of playing in a World Cup for New Zealand…. setting goals for myself, Training hard, eating properly and having good support around me from family and friends helped me achieve this dream.
All though this might sound easy there are plenty of ups and downs being a professional footballer and I’d like to share some of them with you.
When I was a kid around the age of 12 I was never picked for age group academies, my friends would be picked and I most of the time was the unlucky one… while I was sad about this I kept working hard on the field and whenever I wasn’t at club training or an after school training I’d be at the park with my mates kicking a ball around, I then started to develop quick and by the age of 15 I was playing in the Nelson men’s team playing well which lead me to play for Canterbury United in the NZFC, after some good performances I finally got a break into the age group NZ team at the age of 16. I was named by Stu in the NZ u20 team; it was a great achievement for me and one of many I was hoping to get.
Being named in this team made me believe it was my time to achieve goals I’d set for myself. This was also the time I started to concentrate only of football where as my mates thought they could go out to party’s on the weekend. While it’s important to still have fun it’s about picking the right times and this was not the time for me.
I made the right descion as I then got my first professional football contract which made me very proud. My family and friends were over the moon as my hard work as a young boy was starting to pay off for me. I had a great first season in the A-league scoring 4 goals for the New Zealand knights being equal top scorer from only 12 appearances this lead to my first full international cap for the All Whites, I still remember coming off the bench against Malaysia in front of 10,000 people in Christchurch seeing my family and friends in the crowd cheering me on.
After my first professional season I had attracted offers from 5 of the 8 A-league teams and signed a two year contract for the reigning champions Sydney FC.
Up until now everything had fallen into place for me, but this is where some of the downs started to become involved in my career. I didn’t get off to the best start with Sydney, The coach that signed me left the club, I missed most of preseason with a foot injury and moving away from New Zealand for the first time was difficult. My football future was now not looking as bright as it once did and at the end of that season I had decided to leave half way through my two year deal and return back to the NZFC to try reignite my career, later that year I was then named in the u20 team by Stu again and this time we qualified and headed to Canada to play in the u20 World cup.
About a year and a half later I still hadn’t found the form that once got me to where I was a few years earlier. We had qualified for the U23 Beijing Olympics, which I was very excited about…. Until, what I still look back at now and know that these very words that were said to me got me to where I am now…. “IF I WAS TO NAME THE SQUAD OF 20 NOW YOU WON’T BE GOING”.
It was about four months before the Olympics began and my phone was ringing it was Stu, I thought he must be delivering good news that he wants me to move to Wellington to train for the Olympics.
I guess I just assumed that I would be in the team because…. I’ve been a professional player; I’ve played for the All Whites before….I’ll be going easy.
But I couldn’t have been any further from the truth and Stu was dead right in saying that because, yes I had done those things before but I hadn’t been in that environment for a long time.
So after I got that phone call and was told “IF I WAS TO NAME THE SQUAD OF 20 NOW YOU WON’T BE GOING”. I went to my room lay on my bed shed a few tears and thought to myself, I have two options. Option 1: I can keep sulking here on my bed or Option 2: work my bum off as hard as I could and give Stu no option but to pick me in the squad of 20.
Of course I took option 2, got on a flight to Wellington as soon as I could, signed for Miramar Rangers, Trained hard by myself and worked hard in the gym with Andy smith, scored goals for Miramar, got into the best shape of my life and sure enough by the time the squad of 20 was named I’m sure I was one of the first on the list.
My form was back, I was in the starting eleven, scoring in all the build up games to the Olympics including two goals against rivals Australia. I remember after I had scored against the Indonesian National Team, just before we arrived in china, I asked if I could have a meeting with Stu and the rest of the coaching staff. I walked in sat down and after a brief chat I said “how do you guys think I’m going”?? Jonathon Gould (Asst Coach) stood up patted me on the back and said you can go now. I walked out with absolute confidence and this followed on to score a goal against the host’s China in front of 80,000 fans obviously when the goal went in you could only hear our small group of 30 NZ supporters in the crowd including my dad.
I have never looked back and I can thank Stu a lot for that phone call I wasn’t expecting.
Since then I was recalled to the All Whites playing two games at the Confederations cup, signing for Newcastle Jets in the A-league and was back on track to playing in the World Cup.
Unfortunately I missed out on the historic day at Westpac Stadium in November 14th 2009, due to injury but now had a goal in sight to be named in the 23 for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I had recovered from the injury that kept me out of qualifying games and had started to get fit again and perform well for my club North Queensland Fury until four months out from the World Cup I had another down, It was about 9 minutes into a game and CRACK!!!! I broke my leg from a late tackle. My first thought was there goes my dream but with great support from my family and close friends they kept me positive, I had great results from surgery with a awesome rehab program from the physio and fitness trainer, they had got me back on the park for a 10 day camp in Auckland before the 23 were read out to the media for the World Cup… I didn’t have too many problems with my leg although I had to work extra hard to prove I was worthy of a spot on the plane. After the camp there was to be a nervous wait as I was in mid air flying back to Newcastle while the team was being named. I knew when I landed that I would have heaps of texts if I was named but probably only one from my mum and dad if I didn’t, I turned my phone on… my phone went nuts I let out a big YES!!!! I was named in the squad. This was the biggest highlight in my career, then to take the park for 15 minutes in the third game against Paraguay was an unbelievable experience and my dream had come true.
I’m now 23 years old been to a U20 World cup, scored at the Beijing Olympics, played in the confederations cup, in my fourth year of professional football and have represented the All Whites at a FIFA World Cup. I have played against teams like Spain, Italy and Brazil, played against Players like Kaka, Xavi and De Rossi, got some great memorabilia and some memories that will last my life time.
There is no better feeling than playing in front of big crowds, playing against your childhood hero’s and knowing your family and friends are watching you in the stands, on the sidelines or T.V.
As you can see I’ve had plenty of ups and downs and all I can say is stay positive, never take anything for granted, train and play to your absolute best everyday and you will get the rewards you deserve.
Good luck for your futures and I hope to be watching all of you, boys and girls achieve your goals whatever they may be.