Lupe Ole Soaga SC is the latest stop on Matthew Chant’s football journey.
The Englishman has spent the past five years in New Zealand playing for a handful of different clubs and now finds himself in the middle of Lupe’s bid to qualify for the OFC Champions League 2020.
A self-confessed utility that can play anywhere on the pitch, Chant was deployed as a striker during Lupe’s opening game of the Qualifying Stage and repaid the faith with a goal in their 2-0 win over Veitongo FC in Auckland on Saturday.
Chant has had stops at Fencibles United and Waitakere United before spending time at Takapuna AFC where he has featured as a midfielder but is also adept in defence.
His summer interlude for Samoan club Lupe provides him with an opportunity to potentially make his OFC Champions League debut.
“It’s a bit of a different experience, I’ve never done it before,” Chant said.
“Hopefully with the experience in New Zealand and the experience back home, I should be able to give the young lads some excitement on the pitch.”
In England, Chant played for his local club Wincanton Town FC and had a trial at professional side Yeovil Town FC.
He was recruited to Lupe via squad member Ken Kerewi who Chant has played some seven-a-side football with.
Chant worked as a carpenter and a barman in England before he was given the opportunity to come to New Zealand five years ago to join Fencibles. With only a couple of weeks to pack his life up and move around the world, Chant jumped at the chance.
Now a roofer by trade, the 31-year-old explained how it has come to be that he’s played so many positions on the field.
“As you get older, you sort of move your way back and I think as a striker it benefits you playing as a centre half because you sort of know what runs strikers are going to be doing and if you lose your pace you just give yourself an extra five or 10 yards.”
Lupe will hope there’s still some pace in Chant’s legs as they vie for a spot in the group stages of the OFC Champions League 2020. Their final match of the Qualifying Stage is against Tupapa Maraerenga FC at the Ngahue Reserve on Tuesday.