You signed for Queen’s Park FC in 2020. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe the club?
I am really enjoying my time at Queen’s Park FC so far. As soon as I arrived I got a good sense of the club and the players. They all made me feel really welcome and the ambition around the club is great. They are really pushing to try and get promotion and I think with the squad that the club have recruited this year I think it is not only that a realistic target I also think that we will play some nice football along the way as well.
You played football in Japan for Vegalta Sendai. How do you look back on playing professional football in Japan of all places and do you have any highlights or special memories?
When I was over in Australia it became an ambition once I got there to play in Asia and I got that opportunity Graham Arnold who was the Central Coast Mariners manager and he got the job at Vegalta Sendai.
He took me to Japan but unfortunately he only lasted three months so it is a little bittersweet in the fact that I got to Japan was nice and I was really enjoying my football and the style of play was also suiting me but the manager only last six games before he got sacked.
When that happens at the time I was one of only three foreign players in the team and the new manager that came in wanted his own foreign players. I lived and played football in Japan for seven months but it is something that I wish I could have done for a year or two because I enjoyed it so much.
You have been capped by your country of New Zealand on many occasions. How do you look back on representing your country and what are your highlights and memories from playing international football?
International football is probably the highlight of my career and I have been fortunate to play for New Zealand since 2009 to the present day with my last cap coming against the Republic of Ireland last year and to play international football for over ten years is just a fantastic achievement.
The highlight was qualifying for the 2010 World Cup as I was quite a young player at the time and I remember we played a game against Bahrain to qualify and it was the highlight of my career to play in that game. I have 55 caps in total so far and I also believe that New Zealand football has definitely grown and I think in the next couple of years you will start to see the strong ambitions to reach World Cups in future.
You have accrued a lot of experience at club and international level. Could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?
Yes, At Central Coast Mariners I played with a good friend of mine and a good teammate in Nick Montgomery. He was a Premier League player for Sheffield United and he was a true captain and leader and just a fantastic professional.
Chris Wood who is currently striker of Burnley FC in England he is somebody who was our go to man in the New Zealand national team and we would try to get the ball in the box for him and he would be the one that would take us through to major tournaments scoring all the goals.
I have had some fantastic teammates along the way. Ryan Nelsen as well is also up there as one of the best players I have played with so far in my career. He is an incredible player.
I can imagine in your position as a midfielder that you have come up against many difficult opponents through the years. Could you say which opponents have stood out in terms of talent and ability?
Yes, Obviously the first one that comes to mind is Cristiano Ronaldo when we played Portugal. Nothing needs to be said about him but to go up against somebody like that and before the game it was a bit of a surreal moment to hear the manager say we need to be careful of Cristiano Ronaldo.
We also played Brazil in the 2012 London Olympics and to come against Neymar and Oscar in the midfielder and we good a good result against such a Brazil team and having played against them I really did think through the talent that they had that they were next level.
Finally Michael, Could you say who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?
As a kid I had Tommy Burns and Jim McInally at Celtic FC and they really helped me when I was a young boy and when I got out into the real world of professional football the one guy that stands out is Graham Arnold who is the current Australian national team manager.
I had a fantastic relationship with him and we worked together for four years and he did take me to Japan having been so close at Central Coast Mariners.
As a man manager and a tactician probably the best I have played under alongside Anthony Hudson who I played under with the New Zealand national team. He is just so detailed and he knew exactly what he wanted and I think as a player that is all you really ask for is that accountability that you knew that you were going on to the pitch and the manager had the tactics worked out and you just had to deliver.