Without a doubt Aaron Clapham is the shock selection for New Zealand’s South Africa 2010 squad. At the time of the All Whites historic win against Bahrain last November, few would have considered Clapham to even be a remote chance for inclusion on the 23-man list. The goalscoring midfielder only received his first call-up to the national team set-up in late April as coach Ricki Herbert held a camp for domestic players, in which Clapham was the only uncapped player.
Clapham though has good football pedigree and was an important member of New Zealand's U-20 squad a few years back. Much like fellow All White Chris Wood, whose sister Chelsey plays for the New Zealand U-20 side, Clapham’s sibling Sara has played with the New Zealand national team.
As with a number of the All Whites squad, Clapham started his career with a football scholarship at a United States university. The Christchurch-born Clapham started with Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania before moving to University of Louisville.
Clapham found enough success in the US to be included in the New Zealand squad for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which, until recently, he rated as his career highlight. Clapham playing three matches at Canada 2007, missing the game against Portugal but featuring against Gambia and Mexico.
After a couple of seasons playing second-tier football in Australia with Melbourne club Dandenong Thunder, Clapham returned to his home-town team Canterbury United. The move proved to be more successful than the 23-year-old could ever have imagined. The all-action Clapham playing an inspirational role in lifting the club from the basement of the New Zealand Football Championship to the grand final. Despite narrowly failing to collect silverware, Clapham was named the NZFC Player of the Year.