Words: ACFC Media
Tuesday 10 September 2019
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC have re-signed New Zealand U-23 international goalkeeper Conor Tracey as the competition for first team starts heats up.
The 22-year-old made his debut for the Navy Blues in a 0-0 draw with UAE side Al Ittihad on 28 December 2017 just prior to the FIFA Club World Cup and is back to try and force his way into coach Jose Figueira's plans.
Tracey holds an ISPS Handa Premiership winners medal from his first spell at Kiwitea Street where he was back-up goalkeeper behind first choice stopper Enaut Zubikarai.
The Aucklander has enjoyed spells with Ellerslie AFC, Three Kings United but became number one choice at Canterbury United under Willy Gerdsen as the Dragons qualified for the playoffs last season.
Now back at Kiwitea Street for a second spell, Tracey is determined to push for a first team start.
"I'm hoping to take the number one spot and I've made sure to set aside everything else in my life to focus on personal development including gym in the morning, rest and recovery in the afternoon, ready for a tough team session in the afternoons.
"The competition will be fierce with really good mates in Enaut and Cameron but this is a personal mission for me and I really want to develop and improve as much as possible," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
Another attraction at Kiwitea Street for Tracey was the appointment of head coach Figueira and the chance to get Auckland City FC back to winning trophies.
"I've worked with Jose before with New Zealand U-20 and I think he's a really good coach and I think he can do a good job to get the club back where it deserves to be.
"Working with Jose will be great for the club and also for me as a player.
"I would love to see Auckland City FC back to winning the OFC Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup because it was give football in general the type of exposure we need to improve the game in New Zealand. Under Jose I am sure that is something that will drive us on this season," he said.
Coach Jose Figueira was delighted to re-sign Tracey.
"Conor is beginning to mature into a high quality goalkeeper, and his recent displays both for Canterbury United in the ISPS Handa Premiership and the New Zealand U-23s in Samoa have gone a long way to show this.
"It is important for me to have strength and depth right across the squad, and the goalkeeper department is no different.
"It is great to be able to connect and work with Conor once again after so many years. "One thing that has hasn’t changed is his dedication and focus when it comes to the way he goes about his work and desire to improve.
"This foundation along with his recent senior experiences have helped grow and shape his qualities across his whole game.
"Like all teams the goalkeeping department is one of the most unique and dynamic positions in the squad.
"Conor has the right attitude, mentality and quality to both help push those around him but also his own case for a starting spot.
"I am in a great position whereby we have two high quality goalkeepers and I look forward to seeing them continue to push each other to the next level," Figueira told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
AUDIO INTERVIEW - Conor Tracey
Tracey made 18 appearances for the Dragons last season as they missed out on a finals berth to eventual champions Eastern Suburbs against the backdrop of the Christchurch shootings in March.
The young goalkeeper is pensive when he recalls the tragedy but it's clear Christchurch, Canterbury United and the people he met still mean a lot to him six months on.
"The Christchurch shootings hit everyone very hard and nobody knew what was going on. The first day, the next day, it was all over the news and nobody knew what to do.
"We carried on with our lives to a certain extent like shopping for groceries but mostly people were silent, but there was no small talk, people didn't know what to say - we were in shock.
"We didn't know how to move on with our football, we cancelled a few things and also the game with Tasman United out of respect for the victims," he said.
Three members of the Christchurch football coommunity lost their lives: Atta Elayyan, 33, a New Zealand and Canterbury United futsal representative, Sayyad Milne, 14, also a goalkeeper and a Cashmere High School student and Twenty Eleven FC player, Tariq Omar, who also coached Christchurch United's U-9 and U-15 teams.
Tracey says the feelings still run deep even now but admitted everyone was unified in their grief.
"We went to the mosque and paid our respects - a Atta, Tariq and Sayyad were dear to the local football community and their loss hit everyone hard.
"Even though I'm not a Cantabrian I still feel like they were close enough to me that it had an effect.
"We had two options - we could get lost in our own heads with that traumatic experience and let our minds wander or come together strongly as a community deal with problems the best way we can and as a team and help friends and family.
"Focusing on the semi-final and come together as well as we could and try to make everyone in Christchurch proud," he said.
Name: Conor Joseph Tracey
Previous clubs: Ellerslie AFC (NZL), Three Kings United (NZL), Canterbury United (NZL)
New Zealand U-23 international caps: 4
New Zealand U-23 international goals: 0
Pacific Games gold medalist
ISPS Handa Premiership winners medal 2017-18
“Conor has the right attitude, mentality and quality to both help push those around him but also his own case for a starting spot.— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) September 10, 2019
"I am in a great position whereby we have high quality goalkeepers to push each other to the next level"
Coach Jose Figueira (@JoseCoaching) pic.twitter.com/pxKvJ4QbVg