Released by Blackburn Rovers after three years with the English club, Tim Payne cannot wait to prove a point at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
The 20-year-old midfielder signed for Auckland City FC in a bid to keep his physical conditioning and match sharpness as high as possible. Now, with a massive match with Moghreb Tetouan looming, Payne is eager to take to the big stage with the Navy Blues. "I spoke to our coach Ramon Tribulietx about last year's game with Raja Casablanca and how close we got to causing an upset.
"I believe this gives us all confidence going into the Moghreb Tetouan game that we can achieve something special. Keeping our concentration will be important. We lost to a last gasp goal which robbed us of a positive result," Payne reflected.
While he has had to dip out of professional football for the moment, his international aspirations have not stalled with new All Whites coach Anthony Hudson calling him up for friendlies with Uzbekistan, China and Thailand in recent windows. "Anthony Hudson is very switched on and knows how he wants to play. He has goals and aspirations as a coach and as a group so do the All Whites. It's a very exciting time for the national team," he says.
This is a one-off game and anything can happen.
With his international ambitions very much alive, Payne's thoughts turn to the Club World Cup in Morocco and who he thinks will be crowned world champions. "You'd have to go with Real Madrid, it's a one-off game for them from the semi-final to a potential final. Anything can happen," he says.
And how do Auckland City stack up as they prepare to tackle Moghreb Tetouan at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat? "Playing at home gives any team a massive lift so for us going to Morocco to face Moghreb Tetouan is going to be tough. But, again, this is a one-off game and anything can happen," he says.
Auckland City's preparations for the FIFA Club World Cup remain on track with the Navy Blues winning the inaugural OFC President's Cup last month. They play Uzbekistan in a challenge match in Dubai on 4 December.