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Under our Talent Radar banner, we have constantly strived to document and highlight the progress of the younger stars of the beautiful game, before they progress into household names. Our latest initiative within the burgeoning Talent Radar section is the introduction of #The7 feature.
The second edition of this annual feature champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward seven of the best young individuals across seven primary categories.
The pathway to professional football is one taken for granted in many of the better developed countries when it comes to football. In fact the path is so well worn that the degree of competition is the biggest challenge to overcome. The other end of the spectrum sees the opposite problem; potential footballers may be a dime a dozen but the proportion of these young hopefuls that do make it to the professional grade is nothing to write home about.
Most countries in the Oceania region would be able to relate to the above. Even for the likes of New Zealand, the opportunities are limited with Wellington Phoenix the only side plying their trade in the A-League. Thus, for the young players who do get an opportunity, it is one that has to be earned and made the most of. One doesn’t have to look beyond Matthew Ridenton for one of the success stories in the region.
Still only 20-years-old, Ridenton is already a full New Zealand International having impressed at various age groups. The central midfielder is in his third season at the club and has been a consistent squad member when fit. Ridenton is also capable of filling in at full-back if the team requires him to do so. The versatile midfielder excels due to the fact that he possesses qualities that one would expect from more experienced players. Ridenton displays great composure on the ball, an attribute that should see him excel in central midfield for the All Whites in the years to come. Add to this, his awareness of passing options and you can see why the Phoenix snapped him up in the first place and indeed offered him a new contract at the start of the season.
Ridenton’s versatility makes him a consistent option on the bench but the promising youngster will be hoping to nail down a spot in the starting XI and display just why he’s so highly rated by the people that matter.