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What started as a working holiday could turn into a dream come true if Emiliano Tade plays at this month's football Club World Cup.
The 22-year-old Auckland City striker is set to become one of six Argentine players to play at the tournament in Japan. One of them, Lionel Messi, is regarded as the best player in the world.
"If I stop for a moment and think I'm one of the six [Argentine players] then it's more than a wild dream,'' Tade said. "In fact, I often find it difficult to sleep when I think about it.''
Originally from Santiago del Estero, a provincial village, Tade moved to New Zealand on a working holiday in April 2010 after giving up legal studies back home.
Football was the last thing on his mind when he arrived in Wellington. Tade was looking for a complete lifestyle change.
"The move to New Zealand was something I have always wanted,'' he said. "I always wanted to travel and visit places you only see in movies.''
He started playing for Wellington United before Stu Jacobs added him to Team Wellington's ranks in the ASB Premiership.
Just over 18 months later, and after a part-time job washing dishes, Tade can hardly believe he is about to appear on the world stage alongside some of the greats of Argentine football.
"I would have never thought I was about to play at the Club World Cup and yet here I am. I feel like a sacred hand chose me so I could live this great experience.''
Although Auckland's game is only a week away, they still don't know who they will play at Toyota Stadium - the J-League champions have not been crowned.
If they can negotiate that tricky game, Auckland will take on CF Monterrey in a quarter-final on December 11. Tade has special reason to be excited _ Neri Cardozo, an Argentine and former Boca Juniors star, is a mainstay for the Mexican club.
Tade is the second-top scorer in the ASB Premiership with four goals in four games and coach Ramon Tribulietx faces a difficult task narrowing his selection with competition for places heating up as Manel Exposito nears full fitness.
One player wrapped in cotton wool is midfielder Albert Riera Vidal, who has a slight knee injury but is still expected to be fit for December 8.
"There is a week to go for Albert, so there is plenty of time to see if the injury comes right, "Tribulietx said.
Influential skipper and 73-cap All Whites defender, Ivan Vicelich, arrives in Japan tomorrow night, just in time to face Ryutsu Keizai University FC in a friendly match.
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