Football: Vicelich calls time on international career

Ivan Vicelich. Photo by Getty
Ivan Vicelich. Photo by Getty
All White Ivan Vicelich today called time on his illustrious international footballing career.

Vicelich retires as the most capped All Whites of all time with 88 caps in an international career that ran from 1995 to 2013, earning the humble star a place in the upper echelon of New Zealand's greatest football players.

"It was an absolute honour to represent my country and to be able to do it for 19 years and play in a FIFA World Cup is really special," Vicelich said. "Playing for the All Whites is an honour and a privilege for me and my family and I enjoyed every single match I played for the National team.

"The memories I have from wearing the all-white strip and the friendships I have developed is something I will cherish forever.

"I have been fortunate enough to share in some very special moments with the All Whites but it is hard to go past the win over Bahrain to qualify for the World Cup in 2009. It was a memorable night for me as a football player but the joy it brought to all New Zealanders and the football community was amazing.

"I will continue to play domestic football with Auckland City FC until such time as it feels right to step down. I've had a fantastic international career and I was incredibly fortunate to play professional football for 10 years but I know now it is the right time to call it a day for the All Whites but I hope to be able to stay in the game moving forward and continue to contribute to New Zealand and Oceania football."

Vicelich's stature in the game was acknowledged by Auckland City FC chairman Ivan Vuksich, who said the 37-year-old's career should serve as an inspiration to young football players with dreams of becoming a professional football player.

"Ivan is the quintessential New Zealand football success story, from the suburban fields of Central and West Auckland to the FIFA World Cup," Vuksich said.

"At every stage, from youth national teams to the professional ranks, the Dutch Eredivisie and back to the ASB Premiership, OFC Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, Ivan lived the dream with integrity and supreme dedication.

"His playing career will serve an inspirational story for every boy and girl with ambitions to play football at the highest level.

From his grassroots beginnings in Auckland junior football, Vicelich rose to prominence at Waitakere City before signing for Central United in 1997, quickly becoming a fan favourite at Kiwitea Street.

Vicelich made 64 appearances in the black and white of Waitakere City, scoring 4 goals, before embarking on a period of success with Central United where he helped lift the club's first Chatham Cup in Napier in 1997.

It was only a matter of time before professional clubs came knocking, and he signed for the Football Kingz in Australia's old NSL competition in 1999.

A successful two year spell with the Kingz helped earn Vicelich a move to the Netherlands where he spent 5 and a half years with Roda JC as a first team regular up until May 2006.

His second club in Holland, RKC Waalwijk signed Vicelich on a two year contract before the All Whites player decided on a move home to New Zealand signing for Auckland City FC after making well over 200 appearances and scoring 14 goals, including a hat-trick for Roda JC in a 5-1 win over Ado Den Haag, in Dutch football.

Vicelich had called time on his international career until then All Whites coach Ricki Herbert sent an SOS ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa in June 2009. Vicelich was a vital cog in Herbert's plans and his versatility allowed him to make various tactical adjustments with the Auckland City FC skipper able to play as a defender or a holding midfielder.

Vicelich then starred at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, with top performances in draws with Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay as the All Whites were eliminated at the group stage despite being the only undefeated team at the tournament.

He also represented the All Whites with distinction at three FIFA Confederations Cups in Mexico in 1999, France in 2003 and South Africa in 2009.

Vicelich's international career started with a debut against Uruguay and finished as part of the All Whites side that played and lost to Mexico in the FIFA World Cup Inter-Continental Playoff at the Azteca Stadium last November.

Vicelich retires as the most capped All White of all time with 88 'A' international caps, well ahead of Simon Elliot (69) and Vaughan Coveney (64).

His other achievements include the OFC Player of the Year Award in 2009, three OFC Nations Cup wins with the All Whites, and four Chatham Cup wins, three with Central United, one with Waitakere City, and three National League titles with Waitakere City, Central United and Auckland City FC.

Vicelich's personal haul of honours also includes a New Zealand Young Player of the Year award for 1994, New Zealand International Player of the Year 2002, Auckland Sportsman of the Year 2010 and the Auckland Overall Sporting Excellence Award for the same year.

For Auckland City FC, Vicelich won four OFC Champions League titles, one ASB Premiership title and appeared at four FIFA Club World Cups, including the Navy Blues 5th place finish in Abu Dhabi in 2009.

 

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