Words: Gordon Glen Watson
Thursday 3 June 2021
EUPEN, Belgium - Former Auckland City FC and Barcelona striker Manel Exposito will get his first taste of international football when he takes up the role of technical analyst with Roberto Martinez' Belgium side at Euro 2020.
Exposito played 68 times for Auckland City FC and scored 46 goals for the club between 2010 and 2013 and won one league title and two OFC Champions League titles. He appeared at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in 2011 and 2012.
The 40-year-old made his debut for Barcelona against FC Porto on November 16, 2003, alongside a 16-year-old Lionel Messi.
“15 minutes into the game, Luis García got injured and I came for him. In my first contact with the ball, Secretario kicked me so hard that he lifted me there meters. That was my greeting.”
Que buenas épocas con el @AucklandCity_FC ! que momentos y experiencias tan bonitas! Disfruté muchísimo con ellos!!— Manel Exposito (@Xinoexposito) June 1, 2021
“It was impossible to imagine what he was going to become, but obviously you could already tell that he was different, he was one step ahead of everyone else.”
“We won the league and the Champions League (Oceania’s equivalent to the European version of the tournament) in my first year at Auckland City FC.
"I had gone from considering my retirement to playing in the FIFA Club World Cup.”
"I had a lot of good times with Auckland City FC, many beautiful moments and experiences. I really enjoyed my time at Kiwitea Street."
Fantastic opportunity for @Xinoexposito at Euro 2020 https://t.co/B2nvHy1ByC— Gordon Glen Watson (@Gordon_Watson) June 4, 2021
Exposito enjoyed top form during his spell in Auckland scoring twice in the 4-3 ISPS Handa Premiership grand final defeat to Waitakere United at Fred Taylor Park in 2013.
He also scored the decisive goal in the OFC Champions League final second leg victory over AS Tefana in Tahiti in 2012.
The Spanish forward also scored in each league of the OFC Champions League final wins over Vanuatu side Amicale the previous season.
After Exposito left Auckland City FC in 2013, he took up a position with KAS Eupen.
In his first two seasons with KAS Eupen the team narrowly missed promotion twice before he decided to retire from playing.
- Pierre Hissel, analista de vídeo del KAS Eupen, y el español Manel Expósito (@Xinoexposito), segundo entrenador, trabajarán esta Eurocopa para la selección belga analizando los posibles futuros rivales de los de Roberto Martínez. https://t.co/0MZhU4YZE2— El Balón Belga (@Balon_belga) May 31, 2021
Exposito's first steps were to be the assistant coach for Jordi Condom as the club won promotion and reached the semi-finals of the Belgian Cup.
After a poor start to the next campaign, Condom was replaced by Claude Makélélé.
Belgium have been drawn in a tough section for Euro 2020 where they face Russia, Denmark and Finland.
Their first match is against Russia on Sunday 13 June, before they take on Denmark five days later.
The Finland match completes their group stage campaign and is scheduled for Tuesday 22 June 2021.
Name: Manel Exposito
Birthplace: Sentfores, Spain
Previous clubs: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid
Auckland City FC appearances: 68
Auckland City FC goals: 46
Auckland City FC debut: v. Canterbury United (A) won 2-1, January 9, 2011.
OFC Champions League winner 2010-11, 2011-12
Belgian First Division runner-up 2013-14, 2015-16
ISPS Handa Premiership runner-up 2010-11, 2012-13
v Auckland United, Mon 5 June 2023, KO: 3:00 NZT