Words: ACFC Media
Monday 8 October 2018
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Albert Riera has has his New Zealand citizenship confirmed at last.
Riera, who signed for Auckland City FC in 2011-12, has had a long wait for his Kiwi credentials but says its all been worth it.
But the latest club's latest Kiwi recruit faces up to six weeks on the sideline after he went in for minor knee surgery last Friday.
The 34-year-old midfielder was sorely missed at the tail-end of last season after the Navy Blues lost their OFC Champions League crow but Riera is determined to comeback stronger as the club seeks to return to the top.
"It's an overuse injury - I'm not getting any younger - so once it's cleaned out that will be the matter done.
"It's the miniscus and on Friday I'm going to have an operation to clean the knee out and I'll be out for four to six weeks, hopefully less.
"The injury is not serious but it is something that needs to be sorted out sooner or later," Riera told www.aucklandcityfc.com
And while Riera is recuperating from his injury, he may have something else to contemplate after finally becoming a New Zealand citizen in May.
"I've waited a long time to become a New Zealand citizen but it's one of those things that takes time.
"But I'm very happy to be a New Zealand citizen and it's very positive to finally have that completed.
"I first came to this country in 2011 and everything that has happened to me in football in this country has been incredible.
"The only reason I came to New Zealand was to travel, see another country and experience another language.
"I wanted a break from football and I didn't really think about it and now here we are," he said.
While Riera's confirmation as a Kiwi comes at a poignant time for him as an individual, he admits there are other benefits of a football nature as a result of his paperwork getting over the line.
Auckland City FC's OFC Champions League squad composition gets a boost with another New Zealander on the roster and there is the small matter of an All Whites call-up.
"It's a benefit to our team when it comes to the OFC Champions League and maybe more," he said, alluding to discussion about an All Whites call-up that gathered momentum last October.
"My first priority is to play football for as long as I can and be fit and healthy because I love playing football and playing for Auckland City FC.
"But it would be an amazing opportunity to play for New Zealand but right now I don't know where they are at with the new coach and a new set-up.
"The situation is out of my hands. First, I have to have this operation, then I'll refocus on getting back onto the pitch for Auckland City FC then we'll see what happens after that.
"I'll get myself as fit as possible and if the chance comes up to represent New Zealand then I want to be as fit as possible."
Name: Albert Riera
Born: Barcelona, Spain
Previous clubs: Binefar, Atletico Onzon, Balaguer, Mollerussa, Wellington Phoenix
Sun 21 Oct 2018, kick-off 2pm NZST