Between 2004 and 2010 Auckland City FC rapidly emerged as one of the giants of Oceanian club football by winning two continental crowns and four domestic titles.
But the best was yet to come for the New Zealanders who soon tightened their grip on the region’s premier club competition to claim unrivalled supremacy with seven consecutive OFC Champions League triumphs.
The Navy Blues’ utter domination of the competition coincided with the reign of Spanish coach Ramon Tribulietx, who holds the world record for the most trophies in any continental competition during his time with Auckland City.
He first joined the club as the assistant manager to Paul Posa in 2008, before being named co-manager alongside Aaron McFarland in 2010.
Tribulietx took full control of the club following the 2010-11 season, and remained there until 2019, topping the domestic league in six of his eight seasons and winning the playoff series three times.
However, the Spaniard will always be remembered for leading Auckland City to an astonishing seven consecutive OFC Champions League titles between 2011 and 2017, and a third-place finish at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup.
Under the guidance of Tribulietx, Auckland quickly reclaimed their status as the premier club side in Oceania to put the previous season’s disappointment to bed.
They kicked off their 2010-11 continental campaign by topping their group, six points clear of their nearest rivals Waitakere United to set up a two-legged title decider against Amicale FC of Vanuatu.
The Kiwis were made to work hard for their 2-1 away victory in a sweltering Port Vila before sealing their third Oceania crown, as well their ticket to the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, with a comfortable 4-0 win in the return leg at Kiwitea Street.
On the domestic front they again faced old rivals Waitakere United in the title decider.
Although City had won all three of their previous grand final encounters, it was fourth time lucky for the team from West Auckland as they ended the Navy Blues’ run with a 3-2 victory.
Tribulietx’s troops warmed up for the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup by winning the inaugural ASB Charity Cup with a 3-1 victory against Waitakere to avenge their grand final defeat.
Despite a 2-0 loss to Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol in the opening playoff match at the FIFA Club World Cup in Tokyo, the OFC representatives earned plenty of accolades for their performance and development on the global stage.
City secured their return to Tokyo for the next edition of the FIFA Club World Cup by defending their Oceania crown with a 3-1 aggregate victory against AS Tefana from Tahiti.
After edging past the Tahitians 2-1 in the home leg with goals to Daniel Koprivcic and David Mulligan, Spanish striker Manel Exposito was on target to clinch back-to back titles for the club in the return leg at Papeete.
However, the 2011-2012 domestic season ended in disappointment for the Navy Blues.
Despite setting an impressive record as they went through the entire ASB Premiership regular season unbeaten, City missed out on the title following a 4-1 aggregate loss to Team Wellington in the home and away semi-final.
During the 2012-13 season, Auckland City reached another major milestone by becoming the first team in the Oceania region to be crowned OFC Champions League winners for three years straight.
After clinching their place in the semi-finals as group runners-up behind fellow Kiwi rivals Waitekere, Tribulietx’s men cruised past Fiji champions Ba FC 7-1 on aggregate to qualify for the final.
Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium hosted the title decider between an in-form Waitakere United side and the Navy Blues who eventually claimed a 2-1 win courtesy of goals by Adam Dickinson and Alex Feneridis.
During December, Auckland took a break from their 2012-13 ASB Premiership schedule to represent the Oceania Football Confederation at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, where they met Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the opening playoff match of the tournament.
The Kiwis again delivered a competitive performance before narrowly going down 1-0 to the J-League winners.
The next season saw the Navy Blues complete a clean sweep of domestic honours as they lifted the treble of ASB Premiership title, ASB minor premiership and ASB Charity Cup trophies.
Following a thumping 8-1 semi-final aggregate win over defending champions Waitakere United over two legs, City sealed their first domestic national title since 2009, with a 1-0 win against Team Wellington in the one-off final at Kiwitea Street.
The three domestic trophies were followed with a record fourth consecutive Oceania title thanks to a thrilling 3-2 aggregate win against Amicale FC from Vanuatu.
2014 was a watershed year for the New Zealanders who achieved global recognition and praise following their heroics at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
In their opening playoff match they edged past Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory following a scoreless stalemate in regulation time.
That victory set up a quarter-final clash against ES Setif from Algeria, and the Navy Blues came out on top once again courtesy of a single goal by John Irving.
Auckland faced Copa Libertadores champions San Lorenzo from Argentina in their maiden semi-final of the prestigious FIFA tournament which they lost 2-1.
A huge upset was on the cards when a second-half goal from Angel Berlanga cancelled out Pablo Barrientos’ first-half strike for San Lorenzo, before substitute Mauro Matos broke Auckland hearts by netting an extra time winner.
However, the OFC representatives finished the tournament on a high courtesy of an historic 4-2 penalty shoot-out win in the third-place playoff against CONCACAF Champions League winners Cruz Azul from Mexico.
Following a 1–1 draw at full-time, substitute Sanni Issa converted the winning penalty just days after signing for the club, to gain his side worldwide acclaim.
As a team of part-timers and amateurs defied all expectations in the competition; veteran defender Ivan Vicelich came third in the Golden Ball award for best player at the tournament behind Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos.
Back on the regional stage, the Navy Blues won the inaugural OFC President’s Cup beating Amicale 2-1 in the final held at Trusts Arena in West Auckland before securing their fifth continental title in a row by beating Team Wellington on penalties in the OFC Champions League Final held at Suva’s National Stadium in Fiji.
The season’s impressive trophy haul was completed with a successful ASB Premiership title defence, following a 2-1 grand final victory over Hawke’s Bay United at Kiwitea Street.
Despite winning a seventh minor premiership and regaining the ASB Charity Cup, City couldn’t defend their domestic crown for a third year running, losing the 2015-16 grand final 4-2 to Team Wellington, after extra time at QBE Stadium.
And a 2-0 defeat to Japanese side Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup playoff was another big disappointment following the club’s success on the international stage the previous year.
The highpoint of the season was delivered by the club’s sixth OFC Champions League title in a row.
A convincing 3-0 win in the title decider against Team Wellington was the icing on the cake as the Navy Blues set a new world record for consecutive continental championships for any club in any equivalent competition.
The revamped 2016-17 Stirling Sports Premiership was expanded to ten domestic teams with the Navy Blues winning the minor premiership for a record fourth season in a row to secure qualification for the OFC Champions League 2017.
However, the premiership crown proved to be a bridge too far once again for City as Team Wellington overcame the Aucklanders 2-1 in the grand final on a wet night at QBE Stadium.
The club added another domestic trophy to their impressive collection when the Navy Blues defeated Team Wellington 3-1 to secure the NZF Charity Cup in the New Zealand capital.
The Navy Blues’ 2016 FIFA Club World Cup campaign ended with a 2-1 defeat to Japanese opponent the Kashima Antlers.
But on the continental front, Auckland City reigned supreme as they successfully defended their title with a 5-0 aggregate win over New Zealand champions Team Wellington in the two-legged final of the OFC Champions League 2017.
This gave Ramon Tribulietx and the club their seventh consecutive regional title in a row and their ninth overall.
It also provided qualification for the FIFA Club World Cup in the UAE later that year.
During the 2017-18 season the club reached another milestone by setting a new record for the most national league titles after defeating Team Wellington in the grand final at QBE Stadium to seal their seventh domestic trophy to go alongside their ninth minor premiership.
At the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup the men in blue suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to hosts Al-Jazira despite dominating their opponents for the majority of their playoff encounter.
City’s bid for an eighth consecutive OFC Champions League title also came to a sudden end after losing out on away goals to eventual winners Team Wellington at the semi-final stage.
The Navy Blues started their 2018-19 campaign by winning back the NZF Charity Cup with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Team Wellington at Kiwitea Street before a record undefeated run in the ISPS Handa Premiership comprising of 17 wins and a draw from 18 matches saw them win their tenth minor premiership with a new record for total league points.
Their premiership hopes however were shattered as a result of a shock semi-final defeat to Team Wellington.
The Aucklanders suffered a similar fate in the OFC Champions League semi-finals for the second season in a row after they lost 2-1 to New Caledonia’s AS Magenta in Noumea. Following an unprecedented run of success, Tribulietx left the club in June 2019.
Under new coach Jose Figueira, the Navy Blues returned to their winning ways during the 2019-20 season but the outbreak of a global pandemic, COVID-19, saw New Zealand Football conclude the ISPS Handa Premiership season after just 16 rounds.
Both the minor premiership and the championship titles were awarded to Auckland City while Figueira won his first trophy as the club’s head coach when his charges defeated Eastern Suburbs AFC 2-0 in the NZF Charity Cup final in March 2020.
Auckland City FC also reached the quarter-finals of the OFC Champions League 2020 with three wins from their three matches in their group in Tahiti, before the tournament had to be postponed due the pandemic.
Despite a few minor setbacks in the past couple of seasons, Auckland City have already left an enormous footprint on our region’s football landscape.
And who would bet against them rising to the top once again when Oceania’s premier club competition resumes.