When will Boyd play for NZ?

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - LIAM HYSLOP

Tyler Boyd is a trail­blazer on two fronts.

The 23-year-old from Tau­ranga be­came the first Kiwi foot­baller to both play and score in Por­tu­gal’s top di­vi­sion in a break­out 2017-18 sea­son.

On loan at Ton­dela from Vi­to­ria Guimaraes, he played 27 games, scor­ing five goals as his side – a rel­a­tive min­now of Por­tuguese foot­ball – recorded their best ever Primeira Liga fin­ish of 11th.

But that sort of form, in Europe’s sev­enth best league ac­cord­ing to Uefa, won’t trans­late to his name be­ing listed in an All Whites squad any­time soon.

That’s be­cause there is an­other other area where he’s chart­ing his own path, for­go­ing na­tional team duty to fo­cus on pro­gress­ing his club ca­reer. Some other play­ers have done that, no­tably on-again off-again All White Tommy Smith, but few with the con­sis­tency of Boyd, who hasn’t been on na­tional team duty since his last callup in March 2015.

It was a topic Boyd did not want to dis­cuss when do­ing a se­ries of in­ter­views at Ole Foot- ball Academy in Porirua on Wed­nes­day – a spir­i­tual home, of sorts, for his foot­ball ca­reer given his men­tor, De­clan Edge, is in charge there.

The avoid­ance of the topic was both frus­trat­ing and un­der­stand­able.

Frus­trat­ing in that the nar­ra­tive around his All Whites ab­sence has been con­trolled by former All Whites coach An­thony Hud­son. Un­der­stand­able in that he stands to gain lit­tle from speak­ing pub­licly about it - peo­ple will la­bel him as selfish no mat­ter what he says.

So the con­jec­ture around his mo­tives for not play­ing for New Zealand will con­tinue, but what isn’t in dis­pute is his abil­ity.

In terms of cur­rent All Whites, only Premier League play­ers Chris Wood and Win­ston Reid play in tougher leagues, ac­cord­ing to those Uefa rank­ings.

But it hasn’t been an easy run, stuck play­ing in the sec­ond di­vi­sion for the Vi­to­ria re­serve team for his first two sea­sons.

‘‘That was a bless­ing as I got to play straight away in the sec­ond di­vi­sion, which is a re­ally com­pet­i­tive league with teams fight­ing for pro­mo­tion,’’ he said.

‘‘We played 35 games, I did that for two sea­sons and racked up the min­utes and I started learn­ing so much and adapt­ing to their style of foot­ball.

‘‘The third year [with Ton­dela] I thought I was ready and I think I proved that I was ready and have the qual­ity to play for the first team in the first di­vi­sion.’’

He picked out beat­ing Ben­fica 3-2 in front of 50,000 peo­ple at Es­ta­dio da Luz in Lisbon as a sea­son high­light, while he punc­tu­ated his per­sonal high­light reel with a stun­ning left­footed goal in a 3-0 win over De­s­portivo Aves on April 22.

He now re­turns to Vi­to­ria to start pre-sea­son with his par­ent club, with two years still to run on his con­tract.

The aim is to crack their first team, which he said would be as much of a men­tal bat­tle as phys­i­cal - a side of his game he has been work­ing on a lot.

‘‘Learn­ing how to deal with ad­ver­sity and turn a neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive, learn­ing how to al­ways be happy no mat­ter what is go­ing on, if you’re happy you’re go­ing to play well.

‘‘If you’re too se­ri­ous, too hard on your­self, too neg­a­tive, you’re go­ing to see every­thing neg­a­tive and it’s go­ing to show in your play. Lit­tle things like that re­ally helped me.’’

He sees his im­me­di­ate fu­ture in Por­tu­gal and has be­come flu­ent in Por­tuguese, with the ul­ti­mate goal to play in the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League and sign for a top club in Europe.

But even then, he did ad­mit to miss­ing his home coun­try.

‘‘New Zealand is so beau­ti­ful, I miss that beauty, but I miss the peo­ple more.

‘‘I miss my fam­ily and the beau­ti­ful peo­ple of New Zealand.’’

TOTALFOOTBALL

Kiwi foot­baller Tyler Boyd vis­its the Ole Foot­ball Academy in Porirua on Wed­nes­day.

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