By any measure the last 12 months have been remarkable for cultured central defender Ivan Vicelich just as it appeared his glittering career was winding down. Though he started the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign playing three Oceania zone matches in 2007, Vicelich decided to call a halt to his international career in mid 2008. However injury to inspirational All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen just prior to the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 saw Vicelich answer coach Ricki Herbert’s plea to return to the international arena. He ultimately played every minute of New Zealand’s three matches at South Africa 2009 imparting much needed guile and leadership to his team-mates and is set to do likewise this June.
His experience alongside Nelsen was significant, and perhaps pivotal, in New Zealand’s historic play-off win against Bahrain last November, with the 33-year-old veteran not putting a foot wrong over the two legs. He then led Auckland City to fifth at the FIFA Club World Cup just a month later in Abu Dhabi, including a win over African Champions TP Mazembe, a first for a New Zealand side at the tournament.
As if the second leg of the playoff against Bahrain was not significant enough, it also marked Vicelich’s 65th full international, making him the All Whites most capped player of all time having taking the honour from renowned striker Vaughan Coveny. Though in the twilight of his career, Vicelich is now set to play a key role in the heart of the All Whites defence on the greatest stage of all.
Also adept at playing in a central midfield role, Vicelich is a tall and technically gifted player whose career for the All Whites now spans 14 years. With the injury to Nelsen, Vicelich became the only surviving member of New Zealand's inaugural FIFA Confederations Cup debut in 1999. He also featured in two of New Zealand’s three matches at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in France.
Vicelich commenced his senior career with Waitakere and then Central United, before establishing himself as one of the key players for the Football Kingz, when the Auckland based club became the first New Zealand side to join the Australian national league in 1999. Vicelich spent seven years in the Netherlands with Roda JC and RKC Waalwijk before returning to his native Auckland where he skippered Auckland City to a domestic championship and OFC O-League double. He then enjoyed another successful season with his home-town club as the Aucklanders clinched the premiership ahead of city rivals Waitakere.