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Debt crisis dashes Kiwi footballer’s dreams

Mar 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Latest News, News, Sport

EUROPEAN football clubs are in debt and the tough financial times are not only affecting the biggest clubs, but also the aspirations of young Kiwis.

A talented New Zealand football player is being forced to relinquish his hopes of playing for a top Scottish football team, because of the financial crisis facing major European clubs.

Scott Basalaj (17) (right) from Lower Hutt, returned to New Zealand after a month’s trial with Scottish giants Rangers, confident that he would soon be joining them on a permanent basis.

However, because of the club’s recent fall into bankruptcy, the move has been put on hold, leaving the goalkeeper’s future up in the air.

“This year I was hoping to head over to Rangers but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said.

“They are very keen on getting me over, but it’s impossible at the moment because of what is happening there, which is a bit of a bummer.”

The St Patrick’s College student has represented New Zealand at both the under 17 and 20 world cups, as well as being included in the latest All Whites’ squad.

“I’m still at school so I’ll probably try see out the school year. If something else pops up then that would be great.”

He is currently training with the national Olympic squad and has been left to review his future plans.

“Ideally, I would like to be a professional football player, but that doesn’t have to happen straight away. I just need to be patient.”

Many aspiring Kiwi footballers have successfully gained scholarships to American Universities and Scott still sees this as an attractive career path.

“If there’s no chance of me getting a pro contract, then USA Olympic squad would be a great option.”

“My parents are very keen on the American college pathway as I can work towards a degree, and also get good football at the same time.”

Joe Harris is one of those Kiwi Olympic squad footballers lucky enough to have been granted such a scholarship. The former Western Suburbs player highly recommends this route into pro football.

“I guess for me the chance to get an education whilst playing was a huge factor,” he said.

Joe is at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and is thankful for his opportunity, but still believes Kiwis can go on to play professionally in America.

“I guess there’s not the same pressure as trying to make it as a pro, unlike Europe.”

“I would love to get drafted into the MLS and hopefully play professionally after that, where ever it may be.”

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