Smeltz and White claim Oceania honour
Prolific New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz has won the OFC Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, while teenage striker Rosie White made it a double for the Kiwis winning the inaugural Women's OFC Player of the Year.
OFC Vice-President Fred de Jong presented the honours on behalf of OFC President Reynald Temarii yesterday. Smeltz, who has scored eight goals for the All Whites in their 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualification campaign in just six matches to date, says he feels honoured to be voted the confederation's best male footballer for 2008.
"I've seen some of the players who have won the award in the past and I feel privileged to be part of that list," said the Gold Coast United striker who was also recognized yesterday as the 2008 New Zealand Player of the Year. Smeltz, who earlier this year won the Australian A-League Player of the Year for his performances with Wellington Phoenix, is expected to lead the New Zealand forward line at the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009.
Although only 15 years old, White had a prolific 2008 making her senior national team debut after scoring hat-tricks at both the FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women's World Cups.
The first ever winner was Australia's Frank Farina in 1988. Since then Tahiti's Christian Karembeu and Marama Vahirua are the only two players from outside Australia or New Zealand to feature. New Zealand's Wynton Rufer and Australia's Harry Kewell have each claimed the honour on three occasions, more than any other player.