Emiliano Tade had to bide his time to rise up the pecking order of Auckland City strikers but the Argentinean is now reaping the fruits of that wait.
His league-leading 14 goals this season in New Zealand’s ISPS Handa Premiership have seen him pass two significant milestones.
Early in the season he overtook Grant Young’s league mark of 58 goals to became City’s top scorer in the national league and he has since pulled past former All White Allan Pearce’s all time-record premiership record of 70 goals. He now sits on 76 including six for Team Wellington.
Tade, however sees the achievements as welcome by-products rather than his primary driver.
“It’s just a bonus,” Tade says.
“I wasn’t aware of the numbers then suddenly I heard about it through the media, my teammates or the team media officer and I guess at the end of the day it’s extra motivation but it’s just numbers.”
Tade joined the Navy Blues in 2011 after one season with Team Wellington and initially found himself battling for limited opportunities in a squad that included Manel Exposito, Adam Dickinson, Daniel Koprivcic and Luis Corrales.
“At the beginning you feel desperate to get on the pitch because you just love football. But now, looking back in time I think it was probably the right decision and I needed to mature, to learn and to get some experience.
“The good thing is just being on your toes when the opportunity comes.”
Tade proved ready when called upon, even in those early seasons at Kiwitea Street, making useful contributions on the goal scoring front and by the 2013-14 season he won the golden boot with 12 goals in the round robin as the Navy Blues clinched the minor premiership as well as the match winner against his former club in the grand final.
He has already surpassed that mark this season and that form continued at Trusts Arena on Sunday with a hat trick in Auckland City’s 7-0 romp over AS Venus to begin their OFC Champions League title defence.
While he’s still a little way off the competition’s leading scorer, Benji Totori – who added his 23rd goal in Lautoka’s win earlier in the day – Tade’s treble did take his count to 15 moving him above former teammates Exposito and Koprivcic in the process.
Only Joao Moreira and the late Keryn Jordan have scored more OFC Champions League goals for the club and those marks are under threat given the Argentinean’s current run.
Tade has shouldered more of the goal scoring burden for the Navy Bluies since the departure of Ryan de Vries to Japan broke up a lethal partnership but the emergence of Callum McCowatt has lessened the blow and offered a glimpse of the future.
“Losing Ryser [Ryan De Vries] was a big thing for the team and the partnership. He was the player I understood the most in my career but Callum has that special thing where you can understand without talking sometimes.
“Just the fact that you share the same knowledge or approach to playing makes it easier. He’s very young and he’s already proved he’ll be a top player.”
Tade’s next opportunity to add to his OFC Champions League tally comes on Wednesday at Trusts Arena when Auckland City FC face Madang in their second Group C match.