Former All Whites coach Ricki Herbert says confidence and self-belief have been the keys to the progress of striker Chris Wood who has made a dramatic entrance to this season’s English Premier League.
Wood, who was given his international debut as a 17-year-old by coach Herbert, scored for new club Burnley against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium.
“Chris has always been very dedicated and patient through the years at different clubs and he’s got his chance now,” the founder of the Ricki Herbert Football Academy said.
“Being in that position to put the ball in the back of the net at vital times has become quite a trademark for him and that’s to be applauded.
“I look back to 2010 when he was such a young player at the World Cup, and he came on and nearly scored a winner against Italy. He’s had that confidence and that belief and it’s great to see goals coming early in his Burnley career.”
Herbert said the New Zealand team – about to go into key qualifying games for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – would benefit from having a successful player at the attacking end of the pitch.
“We’ve had fantastic players like Winston Reid and Ryan Nelsen from a defensive perspective representing us in the EPL for the last 12 or so years, and now with Chris doing that at the other end of the pitch, it adds another dimension to what New Zealand players are achieving abroad.
“I think the public should be excited about having him back and looking forward to seeing him on Friday [against the Solomon Islands in Auckland].”
Wood, 25, started his senior football career with Cambridge FC with whom he made his Northern League debut as a 14-year-old. He stepped up to National League with Waikato FC and then landed his first professional contract as a 17-year-old with West Bromwich Albion.
Moves to Leicester City and Leeds United paved the way for a four-year deal with Burnley involving a NZ$26 million transfer fee.