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Rogerson in the fast lane

Logan Rogerson of New Zealand against Paraguay at Chile in 2015.

It is hard to imagine there are many teenagers with a broader level of experience at international level than New Zealand’s Logan Rogerson.

It has been a remarkable 12 months for the 18-year-old attacking midfielder who has now featured in all four of New Zealand’s national teams, including a surprise call-up for the All Whites in their most recent 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifiers. And, if that is not enough, Rogerson has also signed with A-League side Wellington Phoenix – New Zealand’s only professional club.

Now Rogerson and his team-mates are hoping to achieve another goal over the coming fortnight by qualifying for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic.

Vanuatu will host the Oceania qualifiers, which commence on Saturday and conclude on 17 September. Also aspiring to win one of two tickets to the world stage are pre-qualifying winners Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island, Tahiti and the host nation.

Rogerson is the first to admit that he has been shocked at the pace in which his career has gathered momentum.

“Debuting for the national team at 17 was massive for me and my family,” Rogerson said.

It is clear that the Hamilton-born teenager is a young man of humility who genuinely respects all that has come his way.

“To achieve that so early in my career was unbelievable and I remember every moment of it. The experience of playing alongside players I idolised as a child is something I will never forget.”

Rogerson featured in June’s OFC Nations Cup as New Zealand won their way to the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, and now he hopes some of that magic dust will rub off as the Junior All Whites seek to carve their own slice of history.

“Playing with the senior team was massive for me, and I learnt a lot from the senior players,” he said.

“Now I want to contribute as much as I can as a leader on and off the field with the U-20s. The team is looking good. The quality of some of the players is top class. We have a really strong team culture, and that will help with the qualifiers.”

Last year was a watershed moment for New Zealand football as the nation hosted the FIFA U-20 World Cup – the biggest global tournament held in the Land of the Long White Cloud. The competitiveness of the host nation and fellow Oceania side Fiji was a highlight for the region, and now two spots are on offer for OFC representatives.

And Rogerson says it is vital that the current crop of players continue the legacy created by the U-20 national team last year.

“It is important to qualify again. Last year the U-20 World Cup showed how we can create history, and how we can compete with the best teams in the world.

“We have in us the ability to create history again, and make it further than the previous group. This tournament is big for us, and we have to qualify, no question about it.”

Eight members of the New Zealand squad featured at last year’s U-17 FIFA World Cup in Chile – including Rogerson – and that experience will stand the Kiwis in good stead as they seek to fend off their Oceania rivals.

“The U-17 World Cup in Chile was massive experience individually and also for the team.

“The players from that squad all have that ambition to be part of this next World Cup and be on the world stage again. We played against some of the biggest teams in the world – Brazil, France, Paraguay – and it was good to gauge yourself and see where you are at. We pushed Brazil to the last few minutes and were unlucky not to get a result.”

Rogerson’s journey has only just started, but one senses there are many more chapters to be written in this story. Certainly this young man is taking nothing for granted.

“The last 12 months have been truly unbelievable,” he said.

“I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given and hopefully this is just the beginning. I want to continue to work hard to grow as a footballer and as a person.”

Story courtesy of FIFA. For more on the world game visit www.fifa.com

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