Oceania Football Confederation > News > FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013 > From OFC grassroots to world stage

From OFC grassroots to world stage

As a child, Burfoot played in the OFC U-12 Festival of Football in Lautoka, Fiji, in 2006 before going on to play in the Danone Nations Cup later the same year.
Now the 19-year-old finds himself on the biggest stage of all – the FIFA Club World Cup – and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ronaldinho, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller.
“The OFC U-12 Festival of Football was such a long time ago but I remember really enjoying that tournament,” Burfoot said.
“We got to play in Fiji against other kids from around the region and we ended up playing in France at Stade Gerland.”
The London-born midfielder has kept an upward trajectory in his career ever since and recently he managed to catch the attention of several ASB Premiership clubs ahead of the 2013/14 season.
With a couple of carrots on offer, Auckland City’s proved most enticing in the end.
“I’ve been with the club since the start of the pre-season and it’s been great so far,” Burfoot said.
“I’ve come from a Division Two winter league club so being with Auckland City at a FIFA Club World Cup is a massive step up and some of the players here – I’m just learning off them every week.”
Burfoot and the rest of the Auckland City squad hit the training ground in Agadir at the training annex less than a kilometre from the match venue after arriving in Morocco yesterday.
The young midfielder said overcoming the jetlag from the massive 30-hour journey to North Africa was the biggest challenge so far.
“It’s been tough especially for a few of the lads who haven’t travelled as far before.
“Coming from England (and living in New Zealand) I’ve travelled long distances before but even I’m struggling in the heat. It’s a very dry climate,” he said.
Auckland City’s training pitch is an eye-opener with two fenced grassed pitches surrounded by an enclosure in the middle of a gravel and rock field on the outskirts of the suburbs, all lending to a surreal atmosphere.
“It was good first proper run out but it was a bit harder than training in New Zealand with the dry weather in Agadir and a hard surface but the training itself wasn’t too bad.
Burfoot’s ascent to the Navy Blues squad means his parents are understandably proud but so too are his team-mates.
“My mum and dad are especially proud and some of the older players have said my family must be happy. It’s a massive step-up from Western Springs but I’m really happy to be here,” he said.
His most memorable contribution to Auckland City’s cause was his match-winning strike against New Zealand-based A-League side the Wellington Phoenix in a 1-0 pre-season friendly win.
Burfoot’s teammate Takuya Iwata swung a cross in from the left which the Phoenix cleared only for the newcomer to lash home a powerful effort from 25 metres out on the angle and into the back of the net.
The late goal turned heads and was confirmation that Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx had uncovered a perfect addition to the club.
“I think Sam fits our style of play perfectly, he’s young and physically a bit immature. But given time you can see Sam could be a very good player for this club.”
Burfoot says after speaking to Tribulietx he knew Auckland City was the place for him and having played in several competitive matches for the side he knows he made the right decision.
Add to that the opportunity to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time and Burfoot was hooked.
Burfoot’s decision to join the Navy Blues paid off after he climbed off the bench to take part in Auckland City’s 1-0 defeat to Espanyol in Barcelona on December 5.
The ambitious midfielder has one long term goal in mind that continues to drive him onwards.
“My biggest goal is to hopefully become a professional footballer one day. But short-term, to have a good season with Auckland City this year and be here next year.”

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