Flying Kiwis in World Football

Chris Wood (wearing blue) and Tommy Smith (in red) battle for the ball in the English Championship

Chris Wood (wearing blue) and Tommy Smith (in red) battle for the ball in the English Championship

We like our local heroes here at The Niche Cache. They give us an example to live up to and to aspire to. Plus they are fun to support! You have probably seen these guys for the All Whites before, but you do not hear much about them playing for their clubs each week, so we try to keep people up to date on how they do. Here are the best of the best of kiwi footy players:

 

WINSTON REID – WEST HAM UNITED (ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE)

Everyone remembers Winston Reid for his last minute equalising goal at the 2010 World Cup against Slovakia. Well, since then he’s become the captain of the All Whites, and has even captained West Ham many times too. Reid is arguably the best current New Zealand footballer, and is a regular for West Ham. Although he has struggled with injuries, and is only now coming back to full fitness, he was West Ham’s best player for the first half of the Premier League season, and was voted the Club Player of the Year for last season!

 

TOMMY SMITH – IPSWICH TOWN (ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIP)

Smith is not a glamorous player. He is a solid and dependable centre-back, who can always be trusted to do his job for his team. Plus he is hardly ever injured, and has missed just a handful of games all year – and that was only because he was in New Zealand to play for the All Whites. Tommy Smith will definitely be a regular for the national team when he is available too. Ipswich are currently mid-table, and hoping for a late season push to make the playoffs for EPL promotion. Smith will be there every step of the way too, hopefully scoring more goals like this:

 

CHRIS WOOD – LEICESTER CITY (ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIP)

Here’s a player who got his big break as a teenager playing for Waikato FC in the ASB Premiership, signing for West Brom. He played a few games in the Premier League for them, coming on as a sub against Liverpool once, though spent most of his time on loan, finally securing a permanent move to Leicester City early last year. Leicester City, known as The Foxes, are the best team in the Championship (the division right below the Premier League), and are strong favourites for automatic promotion – meaning we might have two All Whites in the Premier League next year! Wood mostly plays off the bench for Leicester, playing 15-20 minutes most games. He’s scored some good goals too, plus one of the funniest ones you will see for a long time:

 

MARCO ROJAS – VFB STUTTGART (BUNDESLIGA)

Marco Rojas started at the Wellington Phoenix, and then moved to the Melbourne Victory, where his combination of skill and pace, plus his many great goals, earned him a transfer to German club Stuttgart. The German league is one of the very best in Europe, and so Marco will have his work cut out to make it. Sadly he has been injured all season, so he has not had the chance to play yet, but just spending the year training amongst players of that quality will have an enormous benefit for him.