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September 6, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Post-World Cup Kiwi Football(ers)

All Whites players were predicted to make an impact in the overseas transfer market following New Zealand’s unprecedented success at the recent World Cup. The team’s achievements have since lead to a range of outcomes for the players concerned.

While there have not been wholesale, or particularly exceptional transfers, the most outstanding result has to be 22-year-old defender Winston Reid’s signing at EPL club West Ham. Reid was unknown in New Zealand before the World Cup, but that has all changed. His late equaliser against Slovakia in the All Whites’ opening match grabbed headlines, and made him an instant household name.

Since the World Cup, Reid has been linked to a number of top European clubs, including All White captain Ryan Nelsen’s Blackburn Rovers. However, the Hammers secured the talented youngster for three years, with a reported £4 million transfer from Danish side FC Midtjylland.

While Reid’s induction to the Premier League has been well publicised, another All White—18-year-old striker Chris Wood—is also currently plying his trade in England’s top flight. Wood’s West Bromwich Albion was promoted for this season, making him the youngest Kiwi in the competition.

The All Whites’ other World Cup goal scorer, Shane Smeltz, was another big transfer prospect. Smeltz’s prolific form in the A-League over the last few years—including successive golden boot performances—has been nothing short of phenomenal, and this made him hot property even before the successful World Cup campaign. Smeltz has since been signed in on a big money, two year deal to play in China for Super League club Shandong Luneng.

However, these players’ successes have not been without hiccups. Reid made a surprise start in West Ham’s first EPL match of the season, only to make a decidedly average performance in a losing side. He has since picked up a hip injury which has seen him miss the last couple of games, putting his (near) future aspirations in further doubt. Meanwhile, Smeltz reneged on his Chinese deal after spending just five days in the country, and returned to A-League club Gold Coast United. The striker has now signed with Turkish club Genclerbirligi, despite the risk of repercussions for breaking his Shandong contract.

Perhaps most disappointing for All White fans could be Chris Wood’s apparently uncertain future at West Brom. The club recently signed former Celtic striker Marc-Antoine Fortune, and is expected to put both Wood, and fellow striker Simon Cox, up for loan once the Championship window re-opens. However, Wood made an appearance off the bench against English and European giants Liverpool just over a week ago—surely a career highlight—and his young age makes him an almost certain star of the future.

Playing in strong leagues overseas can only strengthen the All White squad as it moves into a new era. Let’s hope Kiwi football can continue its stellar run—both home and abroad.
With a few minor tweaks, the Phoenix will certainly have the potential to grant the latter!


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