Thursday, 8 August 2013 5:22 PM
He came out of nowhere to be named in Ricki Herbert’s All Whites 2010 World Cup squad and despite not getting on the pitch Aaron Clapham could have been mistaken that his career was about to take off.
Three years on the 26-year-old Kiwi is still working tirelessly to get his big break and achieve his dream of playing in the Hyundai A-League.
Having played for Canterbury United in New Zealand’s top division he decided to think outside of the long white cloud and made the trip across the ditch to play for the APIA Leichardt Tigers in the NSW National Premier League.
“I realised that after returning from holiday that there was still a lot of time before the season started back up again so I spoke to NZ Football and they advised me to look at an NPL club,” said Clapham.
“The opportunity came up with APIA so I thought it would be a great opportunity to put myself in the shop window for A-League clubs.”
“It has been an up and down year for APIA who claimed the Waratah Cup title after knocking off league high fliers Sutherland Sharks 3-0 in the final but have had a torrid time in the league.
“It has been great having the opportunity to play with APIA.
“While our league results have not been the best, which is frustrating, we went on a great cup run.
“When I’m older and look back on what I have achieved in football, the trophies are always going to be something you will remember.”
Those frustrating league results see APIA sit bottom of the NSW National Premier League table, something that Clapham and his teammates are looking to rectify.
“We don’t want to be like Wigan (2012 FA Cup winners) and win the cup and then get relegated in the same season.
“The side is now putting all our focus into getting some positive results and doing everything we possibly can to avoid relegation.
“The cup victory gives us the confidence that we can achieve this.”
Once the relegation battle is out of the way, Clapham is hoping he has done enough to secure a spot on an A-League roster and break into the All Whites side once again.
“I want to get into the A-League and obviously have the opportunity to play for my country once more.
“We have the World Cup qualifier coming up against the fourth place team from North America so that will be massive.
“It would be great to add to my ten caps I have had with the national side and have the chance go to another World Cup.”
With Ernie Merrick arriving at the Phoenix, Clapham has renewed hope that he might find a home in Wellington.
“New coaches have different preferences in terms of players to one another.
“I know I have to play good football to put myself in the frame to be picked up by an A-League club.”
Clapham and APIA Leichardt now have two rounds to jump off the bottom of the table with their latest result, a close 1-0 loss to finals bound Rockdale City Suns, giving them some belief.
They sit two points behind this weeks combatants the South Coast Wolves in what is likely to determine who remains in the top flight of NSW football.
The match takes place on Saturday August 10 at APIA’s Lambert Park with kick-off at 7pm.