Oliver’s keeping the goal safe
Playing keeper can be a punishing position but it’s something Oliver Sail relishes.
The 19-year-old goal-saving machine has cast aside the nerves in preparation for the opening match of the Fifa Under-20 World Cup on May 30.
New Zealand face Ukraine at North Harbour Stadium and Sail is backing his side to stand tall.
‘‘Sheer desire to not lose and win is something that drives us,’’ he says.
‘‘The never-say-die Kiwi tude is quite powerful.’’
The former Mt Albert Grammar School student is excited to see what the tournament will bring.
‘‘It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that there’s going to be millions of people watching us on our home pitch.
‘‘The fact that we get to play in front of of our fans, country, families and friends – that’s huge.
‘‘It’s just going to raise the profile of football in New Zealand.’’
Protecting New Zealand’s goal is a mission he makes his own.
‘‘If mistakes are made, the punishment is harsh,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s quite a demanding position, maybe not physically, but mentally.
‘‘There’s quite a bit of leadership which I like . . . it’s just the fact that you’re special in your own right to the other 21 players on the field.’’ Sail grew up in Epsom and attended Remuera Primary School.
Bouncing between a few different schools, Sail always stayed loyal to his Central United club.
Strong family roots in rugby spurred him to dabble in the sport for a few years, but the passion for football proved to be too strong.
Sail has been making his mark on the New Zealand football scene in both Auckland and Wellington.
After several years playing with Auckland City FC, a move to Wellington resulted in a two-year contract with the Phoenix first team squad.
The call up has been a ive’’ achievement for Sail.
‘‘Every kid wants to be the heroes they see on TV and it’s a real privilege for me.
‘‘I’ve been training with the first team and working with some fantastic keepers.
With his sights firmly set on the European leagues, this could be the beginning of a long career.
Junior All Whites keeper Oliver Sail.