Words: ACFC Media
Thursday 28 January 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Sam Brotherton makes his return to the ISPS Handa Men's Premiership with Navy Blues after long absence from domestic scene.
The 12-cap All Whites international signed on the dotted line last week but keen observers of Auckland City FC's social media will have spotted Brotherton in training images dating back to last season.
Brotherton, who also turned out for the Junior Navy Blues in the now defunct National Youth League, explains why it was logical for him to return to Kiwitea Street.
"I trained with Auckland City FC last summer also between my two seasons with North Carolina. I really enjoyed the environment a lot of good players and a good coach in Jose.
"When Jose opened the door to join the squad I was only too happy to do so.
"My contract was up in the US at the end of last year and my visa was also up so I had no real choice but to return to New Zealand.
"But I don't think there's a better place to be in the world right now with everything that's going on with Covid-19.
"The political climate in the US was also tense and it made an impact on everyday life.
"I'm happy to be with Auckland City FC and grateful I can be in a football environment like the one at this club and keep developing to a high standard.
"I know a lot of the players at the club already and I played for the club's youth team in the past so I'm familiar with Jose so its been good transition.
"There are some very familiar faces because I've played with a lot of the guys here before in national youth teams," Brotherton told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
Coach Jose Figuera is delighted a move could be done for the international defender as Brotherton adds fierce competition for places in a defensive set-up that already includes Vanuatu skipper Brian Kaltak and All Whites caps Adam Mitchell and Tom Doyle.
"Sam is someone I know really well. He has a connection with us in that last season when he returned to New Zealand he trained with the club and came in with us for a number of weeks after the USL break in the US.
"The intention was always to keep connected and with the pandemic affecting the USL in the USA, Sam made the decision to stay at home for an extended period so it was an easy decision for him and us.
"I've spent time with Sam on the All Whites tour in India a couple of years ago and he's someone that provides real maturity and focus for what is still a young player.
"His skill sets with and without the ball means he can slot straight into the way we do things. He's had minimal competitive football so the next few weeks are about him getting up to speed.
"He's of similar age to the bulk of the team, knows everyone really well and is a fantastic person and he's slotted straight in and hit the ground running," he said.
Name: Sam Brotherton
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Previous clubs: Sunderland (ENG), North Carolina FC (USA), Blyth Spartans (ENG), Des Moines (USA), Wanderers SC (NZL)
International caps: 12
International coals: 0
International debut: v Oman (A) won 1-0, November 12, 2015
OFC Nations Cup winner 2016
v Al Ahly, Tangier, Feb 1 2023, KO: 8pm local