Jordan: My father is my inspiration

If, as expected, Liam Jordan represents South Africa later this year at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, he will have support from not one but two nations. The forward is a highly-rated prospect in the Rainbow Nation, but equally he is the subject of much affection and support in New Zealand.

Born in South Africa, Jordan spent nearly half of his life living Down Under, where his father Keryn, also an attacker, played with great success for Auckland City, including at two FIFA Club World Cups. Such was his status in New Zealand’s domestic competition, he was named the league’s player of the decade following a trophy-laden career. Tragically Keryn, who represented South Africa at senior level, passed away in October 2013 following a long battle with cancer.

Now Liam is holding the family’s football baton, and doing an impressive job of it. Last year Jordan, who is still only 16, was the youngest player with a contract in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, spending most of the time training with the Bidvest Wits senior squad. He also enjoyed training spells with a variety of European clubs including Brondby, Manchester United and Sunderland.

Inspiration and pride But it is at international level where Jordan has most recently made an impact, last month helping the Amajimbos qualify for Chile 2015 alongside Nigeria, Guinea and Mali. Understandably it was a poignant moment for Jordan junior to follow in his father’s footsteps by wearing the national team shirt. Jordan took to the pitch in Niger wearing his father's No14.

"I specifically chose jersey No14 because I want to wear the number for both of us - myself and my late father,” he said. “I have to say that I sensed his proud smile watching over me in that moment, and that continues to give me inspiration every day.

“My father taught me everything that I know, about the dos and don’ts, on and off the field. We had so many one-on-one trainings, tears and laughs, I have lost count, but it was the training that built me as a player and a person. My father is my inspiration every day to do better and I want to play professionally one day for both of us.

“Wearing the South African jersey was a great moment in my career so far. Coming on , I was filled with pride and hunger to do the job for my country.”

Kiwi connection Having grown up and gone to high school in Auckland, Jordan retains strong links with New Zealand, who themselves have already qualified for Chile 2015. In particular, Jordan’s strongest link is surely with the Navy Blues, where his father will forever be known as a legend at Oceania’s most successful club.

Auckland City claimed global attention in their most recent Club World Cup appearance late last year, when the part-timers finished third, having pushed South American champs San Lorenzo to extra time in the semi-final.

"Auckland City FC will always be in my heart,” he said. “The team deserves congratulations for what they achieved at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco last year.”

However, the immediate goal is to break into the Bidvest Wits first team and, after an appearance on the bench this week for the Clever Boys, that may not be so far away. Then later this year Jordan hopes to have his own chance to rub shoulders with the world’s best.

"It would be great for us to get international exposure as young players," he said. "Moving overseas gets tougher as the years go by, so exposure at our age would be beneficial.”

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