Words: ACFC Media
Wednesday 23 June 2021
SEVILLA, Spain - Former Auckland City FC striker Manel Exposito will join Serie A club Udinese as its Performance Coordinator at the conclusion of Euro 2020.
Exposito, technical analyst with Belgium under Roberto Martinez, played for Auckland City FC for three seasons before joining Belgian club KAS Eupen in 2013.
Now 39, Exposito's next challenge is to join the technical set-up with Udinese who finished 14th in Serie A behind Fiorentina and ahead of Spezia and Cagliari.
Notable players to pull on the jersey of I Bianconeri include former Argentine internationals Abel Balboa and Nestor Sensini, Brazil's Zico, Chile's Alexis Sanchez as well as German internationals Oliver Bierhoff and Carsten Jancker.
Italian 1982 World Cup winner Dino Zoff is another famous name associated with Udinese.
Exposito scored an impressive 46 goals in 68 appearances for Auckland City FC, winning two OFC Champions League titles.
During his time at Kiwitea Street, Exposito gave strong views about how he saw the future of the New Zealand Football Championship and OFC Champions League competitions and also what he thought of the quality of football in the region.
"When I arrived, I was surprised by the quality. In New Zealand, they do not see things like diving or trying to take advantage of an opponent to win a penalty in a very positive light. They believe that those traits in a player are not noble or sporting.
"I was also struck by the fact that at the end of each game there is a similarity to rugby culture where the fans of the two teams, along with the players and the referees, come together in the "club rooms" of each venue to enjoy a post-match meal together.
"There are conversations with the fans and the coaches and the sponsors give the prizes to whom they believe were their best players of the day. All very curious," he told a Spanish language A League blog.
"The NZFC and OFC Champions League were slowly growing and therefore becoming more competitive.
"But I think the way forward for Auckland City FC is to try to take become one of the franchises of the A-League where they can grow bigger in terms of their professional development.
"I think it would be great if at any given time Auckland City FC could make the leap to the A-League, both for them and for the Australian League since they would win a very competitive franchise and with a very classy style of football that might surprise many people.
"I would love to see Auckland City FC one day playing in the A-league but I imagine this takes a lot of time and effort, and if they have not done it yet, it's only because it's not an easy task to complete," he said.
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.
KAS Eupen - Assistant Coach
Belgium - Technical Analyst
Udinese - Performance Coordinator
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 Al Ahly, Tangier, Feb 1 2023, KO: 8pm local