PLAYER PROFILE - Mario BILEN
Mario Bilen and his family moved to New Zealand in 2013 after many years in Europe playing in professional football in Albania and his native Croatia.
Comfortable on the ball, thoughtful with his passes, the technically gifted midfielder was an instant hit at Kiwitea Street turning in top performances.
Bilen was again a key figure as the Navy Blues qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco and delivered a wonderful performance despite the team bowing out to Moroccan champions Raja Casablanca with almost the last kick of the match.
But the Croatian playmaker would enjoy some degree of satisfaction the next season as the Navy Blues went all the way to the bronze medal beating Moghreb Tetouan, ES Setif and Cruz Azul in a sensational campaign at the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014.
Bilen counts himself lucky to have played alongside class acts such as Luka Modric but counts former Navy Blues defender Marko Dordevic among his many friends made at Auckland City FC.
The former Croatian age-group international rates Alfie Rogers as his favourite local player while he considers his objective this season to help the club win every major honour available.
Sun 23 Feb 2020, KO: 2.00pm, Trafalgar Park