den Heijer strengthens City for 2023

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 15 January 2023

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Michael den Heijer has moved to Auckland City FC for the 2023 season.

The 26-year-old former New Zealand age-group international is in his second spell with the Navy Blues after after making his debut for the club against Waitakere United in the NZFC on 8 March 2015.

den Heijer enjoyed a highly successful first stint at Kiwitea Street winning two OFC Champions Leagues, an NZFC and an NZF Charity Cup.

His previous clubs include Kashiwa Reysol (Japan), NEC Nijmegen, SV DFS (both Netherlands), 1.FC Kleve (Germany) and Auckland United.

den Heijer was a key figure for Auckland United in their push for honours making 45 appearances and scoring eight goals for the Keith Hay Park-based club.

"It feels very good to be back at Auckland City FC. I've been with the club before and experienced the taste of success and I'm looking forward to doing my best and help the club go forward.

"I'm very excited about the FIFA Club World Cup and playing Al Ahly. They're the most successful club side in Egypt and have won back-to-back bronze medals at the FIFA Club World Cup but with the team we have we are determined to give our best.

"I don't know too much about Morocco as a country and I wasn't part of the Auckland City FC team that played there in 2013 and 2014. They are very passionate football fans and their national team had a great FIFA World Cup in Qatar so I'm looking forward to experiencing the culture their fans and people bring.

"I look up to Albert a lot because he played in the same position as me and I grew up watching him at Auckland City FC and the Wellington Phoenix. The first time I was at Kiwitea Street as a player I actually sent Albert a photo of us together after a Phoenix game, one that was taken when I was still very young, which was one of those strange things that happen in football," he said.

Riera's recollection of that moment when he and den Heijer went from fan and hero to team-mates under Ramon Tribulietx nearly seven years ago. 

"I do recall that photo we had together, it was taken in Wellington and he sent him to me when he first signed for Auckland City FC back in 2015. Now he's 25 years old and he's got a lot of experience for someone as young as he is. He's played overseas and he understands the game the way we understand the game at this club so I think he can be a very good asset to the team.

"I remember the first time I saw Michael play here and was very impressed by him. Michael is a very good player and adds competition for places in our midfield.  He's a big lad but very quick for his size and he can play in this position which is not very common in New Zealand so I am very happy to have him on board for this season," Riera said. 


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