It’s a dream that comes true every year since 2011. In 2017 Auckland FC have made their 7th FIFA World Cup Club appeareance in a row. A huge achievement partially ruined by losing to host team Al-Jazira in the preliminary round.
To know something more about this reality, we talked to someone who came to Auckland from far away and for different reasons. Two stories: the first one from Argentina, the other one from Mexico (with Italian roots). One is among the historic pillars of the club, the other one joined more recently; one is born in 1988, the other one in 1993. Both though play as forward and they found a paradise in Auckland.
There was never a plan to play football… actually, it was a way of escaping the daily work I was doing.
he told MondoFutbol. “Then things slowly started to get in a more serious stuff: I started to feel like a footballer. Obviously it was always the second priority in my list, because my job was the main one, but then it was just the adventure and travelling always there… so that’s probably why I switched to football.”
For Fabrizio Tavano, instead, it has been different, because he came from Mexico when he was still young (12 years old): “My parents and brothers have being living here since we first moved, so it’s always nice coming back here to play for Auckland City and also enjoy time with them.” Tavano has several ties with Italy not only due to his grandparents’ heritage, but also because he played for some Italian clubs: “It was an amazing experience to have featured in three different clubs (Vicenza, Pisa and Carpi, ndr), playing in Italy obviously made me improved a lot as a player. So obviously if the opportunity comes around once again, I will consider it. But at the moment I’m focused 100% here in Auckland City.“
But if Tavano had also other experiences outside New Zealand (he featured in one youth Viareggio Tournament, in 2013 with Santos Laguna), Tade has been basically associated to Auckland City: “I’ve been here seven years and a half, but I still have a great relationship with my country. I’m attached to it, because it’s where I come from and where my roots are, where my family lives… so I’ll always considered it as part of me. I really experiencing new things and learning languages, travelling around, meeting new people in different countries and cultures… Argentina became my home far from home. It’s a place I always can count on, because I try to get back as much as I can: it’s like my comfort zone is getting bigger and bigger, living in different countries.” 2017 FIFA Club World Cup has been a massive event for a club like Auckland City, in spite of an early elimination: the New Zealand-based outfit has, in fact, just a semi-pro status. Nevertheless Tavano told us how preparation is more than appropriate, also thanks to Spanish manager Ramon Tribulietx, who has been at ACFC’s helm since 2010:
He makes it a lot different: he’s an amazing coach and he’s used to that professional environment, so we train everyday like a pro team would do.
Tade actually just achieved a record, becoming the player with the highest number of games played in the history of FIFA Club World Cup. Yet he couldn’t believe he was the man of the hour: “I don’t see the stats. Every time I talk to someone about getting or making a record, I always think that I’m talking about someone else but me.“
Obviously, it’s a great achievement… but I always feel like I’m living a dream.
I always feel the need of seeing this through another perspective. It’s overwhelming, but at the same time I can’t give it a value. I see it of someone else’s and not mine.“
Moreover, there’s an important past. In 2014, Auckland City did not only overcome their usual first hurdles, but they came 3rd, one-step away from playing the final: “It was an amazing experience: we were really close to play a final against Real Madrid. There are no words to describe that feeling.” Tade goes even deeper: “The biggest memory is the gap between winning the 2nd game (against ES Setif, ndr) and facing San Lorenzo in the semi-final: they’re one of the biggest club in Argentina and I grew up watching them. Put them under pressure, scoring an equalizer… it was unbelievable.”
There’s also another question, often unconsidered: the conception of FIFA Club World Cup. What exactly means this tournament on the other side of the world? “This was my third time; it has always been extraordinary experience to be in this event, to get an opportunity for us to match ourselves against the best of every continent.” told Tavano.
Maybe Tade gives us the ultimate concept of the Auckland-centric train of thought, with him seeing all of this like a dream: “For the rest of the world, having the opportunity to compete at that level… it’s a gift.
At the beginning, I used to take it as a gift in life, to be able to play at that level, where millions of people are watching. Nowadays I consider it a gift from football, a way to compare myself and see where the club or myself are standing in football.
For me, the FIFA Club World Cup is one of the greatest tournament in the world and it has to be. Just the fact that you could be a World Champion means that’s more than a small tournament.“
Cover photo & Auckland City-San Lorenzo ©Getty
Photos regarding Fabrizio Tavano ©ACFC TV
Other photos ©LaPresse