In the seventies and early Eighties it was North America and for a few years in the Nineties it was Japan, then came the MSL revolution and the destination for aging or forgotten footballers went full circle and America was once more the desired destination. Nowadays, with the ever increasing expansion of the global game, footballers (and managers) have a myriad of options when deciding on their retirement plan including China and our very own A-league.
In this occasional series I will be highlighting football personalities who you may have forgotten who are now plying their trade Down Under. This time it a footballer who is probably only really remembered down at the Den but is revered here in New Zealand, Paul Ifill:
If you were a football geek visiting Nelson, on the south island of New Zealand, you may be surprised to see the name Paul Ifill featuring so prominently on the news this week. You may remember Ifill as a member of the Millwall team who shocked the nation by managing to reach the 2004 FA Cup final but here in New Zealand the tricky winger is celebrated for his heroics for the country’s only A-League franchise, the Wellington Phoenix.
After leaving Millwall, Ifill had spells at Crystal Palace and Sheffield United before deciding to move to the other side of the world to continue his football career. In five years in Wellington he became a cult figure thirty three goals in only one hundred and six games and is rightly remembered as one of the Phoenix’s finest players.
Now in the twilight of his career Ifill has signed to play for Tasman United as they make their bow in New Zealand’s Stirling Sports Premiership. Even at thirty six I suspect he will still have a little bit too much class, if not the pace, for his opponents but if he doesn’t, don’t expect Ifill to be returning to English shores anytime soon as he has set up two football academies in New Zealand to try and nurture the next generation of Kiwi football talent.