Soccer: Brockie returns to the scene of his career highlight

Striker Jeremy Brockie will attempt to break his duck for the All Whites overnight (NZT). Photo / Getty Images.
Striker Jeremy Brockie will attempt to break his duck for the All Whites overnight (NZT). Photo / Getty Images.

Striker Jeremy Brockie will attempt to break his duck for the All Whites overnight (NZT) but it was a strike in the world's most populace nation which got his career back on track.

Brockie burst onto the scene as a dreadlocked 17-year-old for the New Zealand Knights and earned a contract with Sydney FC, who have been known by the moniker Bling FC because of their penchant for big-name signings like Dwight Yorke and now Alessandro Del Piero.

But Brockie didn't shine in a frustrating time and soon found himself contemplating the harsh realities of professional football after having his two-year deal terminated early and went back to the national league with his tail between his legs.

A good stint with Hawkes Bay United saw him earn a callup to the Olympic side for the 2008 Games in Beijing and he created history by becoming the first New Zealander to score a goal at the Olympic Games in the 1-1 draw with China.

"To score the first for your country on an occasion like that, at one of the biggest stages you can, in front of 41,000, with my dad in the crowd, it was such an amazing feeling," Brockie said. "Definitely my career highlight to date and reward for the difficult times I experienced leading up to that moment.

"Everyone sort of jumped on my back when I didn't do so well at Sydney FC and I had to come back to Hawkes Bay United to play. I wasn't really hitting my straps at that stage and it took a lot of hard work to make sure I got my fitness levels right to make sure I even made that Olympic team."

The goal, a spectacular effort from the edge of the area, proved to be the catalyst for Brockie to revive his professional ambitions and he landed another shot at the A-League with the expansion North Queensland Fury franchise and later Newcastle Jets.

Last season was undoubtedly Brockie's best in the A-League with nine goals for the Jets, including a couple of contenders for goal of the season. But despite playing week-in, week-out as a striker at club level, he was something of a utility player in Herbert's All Whites, lining up as a wing-back in the 1-1 draw with China in Wuhan last year.

With Chris Killen not available and Shane Smeltz (hamstring) under an injury cloud, there's a good chance Brockie will enjoy extended game time against China in Shanghai tonight.

And he would love nothing more than to break his duck for the All Whites after 34 A internationals.

"Over the last few matches I've moved into more of a striker's role with the national team but I'm still trying to get my first goal for the All Whites," he said. "Hopefully I get another opportunity this time to put one in the back of the net."

As he showed when getting off the mark for the Phoenix 10 days ago, when he scored a brace against Melbourne Victory, they're normally worth waiting for.

- APNZ

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