THE YEAR THAT
Football player Myer Bevan, 20, on that feeling when you get picked for a national team
It was the middle of 2016 when the chance to trial for the Nike Academy in England came up. I’d been playing senior football for Western Springs, but I’d never been in a national team. I’d never been selected for any big things like that. The club captain, Liam Mulrooney, had been a selector and told me it was all about how you play on the day — but I didn’t really believe him.
I applied for it late and had a trial in New Zealand, with about 200 other boys. It was so cool to be there. Even if I didn’t win the experience was awesome.
But I got through and got to go to France. I remember all the boys coming in with their bravado. It was a bit crazy for the first few days, then we settled down and played games.
I always thought to myself: what if it does happen, if I make it and have to move away from home? I didn’t really know what I’d do.
Then it was the announcement. We all sat in this room and they told us it was the best year of talent they’d had, so they were going to bring in12 new players instead of the usual five. I saw everyone’s face light up.
They chose an Aussie boy second and I was so happy for him. Then the guy on the other side of me went up fourth. They kept calling names, and when it got to six or seven everyone who was left started to freak out.
I was called ninth. I stood up there in the lights holding the new jersey I was going to be wearing. I couldn’t believe it, really.
But I moved over to England and it was the dream. I was scoring goals and doing well.
I came home to New Zealand for Christmas and New Year, but when I went back to England I couldn’t get through Customs. I was supposed to be going back for a year, but they told me the visa I had was no longer any good because of Brexit.
They took my bags and phone and I was left in a tiny room looking at a blank wall for about six hours, drinking water and freaking out. The people who had come to meet me gave up and left.
Eventually they called up the guy who ran border security. He said they would let me in, but once I went out again, I would have to stay out for a year.
And when I got to the academy they told me I wouldn’t be able to sign with a team in England. I thought it had all been a waste of time. Why bring me over if I couldn’t have it anyway? I was gutted and went into a shell.
But I decided to make the most of it and do as well as I could until the Under-20 World Cup. I’d done so well at the Academy I’d been selected for the New Zealand team, and I stuck it out until then. And then I had a call from the White Caps in Vancouver wanting me to play for them. I trialled and got into the team. All I’d ever wanted was to get a contract and play for a living. I couldn’t believe all that happened in the space of a year. As told to Paul Little.