Olympic debut caps Payne's remarkable year

NZ Newswire July 10, 2012, 7:40 pm

Attacking midfielder Tim Payne caps a remarkable career stretch when he takes the field for the New Zealand Olympic soccer team against their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo on Wednesday.

His appearance for the Oly Whites, an under-23 squad with three over-age players, means the 18-year-old will have represented New Zealand at every level in the space of one year and 12 days.

The stretch began with the New Zealand's elimination at the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico, a campaign in which he played a starring role as the Young All Whites made it to the round of 16.

His performances helped him to get a successful trial with Blackburn Rovers and he went on to be part of the Junior All Whites' Under-20 World Cup effort in Colombia.

In May, Payne made his full All Whites debut against Honduras in Dallas and added three more caps in the Oceania Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands in June.

"The past year has gone by so quickly," the England-based Aucklander said.

"When I think back to the start of the under-17s to where I am right now and everything that's happened, it's a dream come true."

All Whites Cameron Howieson and Michael McGlinchey will also make their Olympic team debut against Japan.

Oly Whites coach Neil Emblen will be without the services of West Brom striker Chris Wood and Ipswich Town defender Tommy Smith, who will join the squad for their next warm-up match against South Korea in Seoul on Saturday.

Like New Zealand, Japan and South Korea will be part of the 16-nation men's soccer tournament at the London Olympics.