Cam Howieson didn’t expect to captain Auckland City FC this season but he has plenty of football experience to draw on that he can apply to the role.
He was given the armband for the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership when regular skipper Angel Berlanga was ruled out with a long-term knee injury.
“I’ve enjoyed it, leading the boys out,” Howieson said.
“It’s a little bit more demanding at times but I’m happy to lead the boys and the lads are good and also we’ve got a leadership group, which helps. So, it’s not just myself, it’s other players helping as well.”
The Navy Blues are leading the pack at the top of New Zealand’s national league ladder after their season got off to a rocky start with some mixed results in the early going.
Howieson only turned 26 in December but he has a wealth of football knowledge, having spent four years with Burnley from 2011-2015.
During his stint in England with The Clarets, he made his first appearance as a 17-year-old, becoming Burnley’s youngest debutant in 25 years, but he struggled for opportunities with the first team.
After being released, he spent a season with St Mirren in the Scottish Championship before returning to New Zealand where he linked with Team Wellington in 2016.
The following year he signed with Auckland City FC and hasn’t looked back clocking up more than 90 caps and counting.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Auckland. My partner and my kid’s here so we are pretty settled here.”
Now with the captaincy duties and nearly a decade of senior football to his name, Howieson said he often used what he had learned overseas to his advantage.
“It’s the intensity of stuff and the professionalism of everything. Day in and day out just eating the right things and always having to give 100 per cent every training session or else you get found out.
“But I’ve taken a lot from those years that I was there and obviously being captain now, those types of situations and being in that environment help. But it was a great experience while I was over there.”
Howieson has strong ties to the Pacific with Samoan heritage on his mother’s side and while he has never played in an OFC tournament there, he’s been on numerous trips to see extended family.
Having first played for the All Whites as a teenager in 2012, Howieson also went to the London Olympics in the same year as part of New Zealand’s U-23 side.
He had previously represented them at U-17 and U-20 level and while his most recent senior call-up came in 2018, the midfielder said he still wanted the opportunity to add to his 13 international caps.
“It’s always a proud moment pulling that jersey on so if the call ever comes again, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
“So, I’ve just got to keep ticking away here at City and if games come up and I get picked then awesome. But I’m just really concentrating on the club footy and if international footy comes along, that’s just a bonus.”
Auckland City coach Jose Figueira said Howieson had proven himself as a strong leader this year.
“Last season when I came in, I promoted him in a bit more of a senior role, he’s part of the leadership group,” Figueira said.
“Obviously this year he’s captain and he’s certainly a captain that leads by example and his actions; obviously there’s that quality on the ball and what he brings in those aspects but he’s really passionate and he drives the team, demands standards and that’s not just on the gameday, that’s on a daily basis.
“So, when you’ve got players like him in those positions demanding all of those things from others and of himself then it can be really, really powerful to have within the group.”
Heading into the final stretch of the regular season, Auckland City FC will meet the Wellington Phoenix Reserves away from home this Saturday.