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.
The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward seven of the best young individuals across seven primary categories.
Eligibility: 21 years old and below on January 1st, 2017
Bill Tuiloma’s 2017
Having started off the year with Marseille in France the, Beach Haven born, 22-year-old found himself struggling for game time and transferred over to, 2015 MLS Cup Winners, Portland Timbers in July.
Customarily a defensive midfielder, he’s appeared 11 times for the Timbers second team playing in the United Soccer League, where the team finished in last place overall – Tuiloma was one of, if not the only, staring light in the squad.
With strong leadership skills he was able to establish himself on the pitch with key tactical knowledge – combine that with his 20+ New Zealand national team appearances and he looks destined to be a future All Whites captain.
Despite only being 5ft 10inches, Tuiloma possesses an underrated heading ability as exemplified by his debut goal against Seattle Sounders 2; with a delightful leaping ability, he comes in handy contributing going forwards but equally in standing his ground in his own box. If he’s assigned to mark you, he will not let you out of his sight.
Timbers’ fan forums abound with talk of his tough tackling which has actually found him more recently utilized as the centre-back for Andrew Gregor’s team.
Another strong attribute is his long throw, Rory Delap-esque, which reaches upwards of 25 yards, enabling the Timbers to launch an attack from their own half and immediately turn the rhythm of the game.
2017 has been a season for Tuiloma to gain valuable on the field experience and whilst questions have persisted about his stamina and fitness, the only way to prove those critics wrong is by continuing to play well, regularly.
2018 then is a year for the young Kiwi to target the Portland Timbers first team as well as enhance his stature in New Zealand football. (written by Oliver McManus)
What do the Experts say?
“It’s surprising to realise that Bill Tuiloma is still just 22 years old. Having made over 30 appearances for Marseille B and becoming the first Kiwi to play in Ligue 1 for L’OM, picking up 22 caps for the All Whites, he’s achieved a lot in his career so far – and yet still has so much potential. Typically defenders mature later than other players, as do defensive midfielders. That’s exciting for All Whites fans, who hope Bill can follow the example of Jake Gleeson, Michael Boxall, Stefan Marinovic and the other Kiwis who have made it into the MLS lately. With a well-spent youth in European football, the best for Tuiloma is yet to come.”
Dale Warbuton of Yellow Fever, told Outside of the Boot this:
“Bill is a very good technical player and is strong in the air. He is confident playing as a defensive midfielder or centre back. Although he struggled to break through in France in recent years, the move to Portland seems to have invigorated his career and was on the bench in Portland’s playoff match last weekend.”
Oceanian Young Player of the Year History
|Year||Player||Age (at the time)||Nationality||Club (at the time)||Current Club|
|2017||Bill Tuiloma||22||New Zealand||Portland Timbers||Portland Timbers|
|2016||Matthew Ridenton||20||New Zealand||Wellington Phoenix||Wellington Phoenix|
|2015||Ryan Thomas||20||New Zealand||PEC Zwolle||PEC Zwolle|
- African Young Player of the Year 2017
- Asian Young Player of the Year 2017
- European Young Player of the Year 2017
- North American Young Player of the Year 2017
- South American Young Player of the Year 2017
- Womens’ Young Player of the Year 2017