All Whites Tommy Smith and Leo Bertos.
All Whites Tommy Smith and Leo Bertos talked to King's
High School senior academy footballers in Dunedin yesterday
about dreaming the ''impossible dream'' of being a professional
Smith (22) said his travel schedule to play for English team
Ipswich Town and the All Whites was ''hard work'' but worth
''It took me 36 hours to get from my house in England to over
''It's tough but I wouldn't change it for anything ... Ever
since I can remember I've wanted to be a footballer and to
wake up every day to be able to do that is a blessing.''
Bertos (31) said young footballers should never give up on
their footballing dream.
The pair are in the All Whites line-up to play New Caledonia
in their final home World Cup qualifier at Forsyth Barr
Stadium, in Dunedin, tonight.
''I know my dream when I was your age was to play in a World
Cup and to be a professional footballer,'' Bertos said.
''I was told a number of times by friends and family that it
was an impossible dream.''
But hard work on the football pitch made his ''impossible
dream'' a reality, he said.
The biggest football game Dunedin has hosted in 25 years has
attracted just 5500 ticket sales.
''We'd certainly like more people to be there than that,''
New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh said in
NZF paid a rental for the stadium and would cover the costs
associated with the hire, and some of the costs of the
visiting team's costs, no matter how many tickets were sold.
He would not divulge a break-even figure, but said he would
have liked to see 10,000-plus tickets sold.
''That would have been a good number.''
The light ticket sales follow a warning shot from Dunedin
Venues Management Ltd chief executive Darren Burden, who
earlier this month said the chances of the Wellington Phoenix
coming back to play at the stadium depended on football fans
in the South getting out and supporting the team.
A crowd of just 3060, almost half of them walk-up gate sales,
turned up for the team's March 3 match, which Burden said was