College sport: Rising star 'footballer at day one'

By Terry Maddaford

Jordan follows in his famous dad's footsteps.

At only 14, Liam Jordan (left) will be eligible to play in the next two Under-17 world tournaments. Photo / Natalie Slade
At only 14, Liam Jordan (left) will be eligible to play in the next two Under-17 world tournaments. Photo / Natalie Slade

A bright-eyed, 10-year-old Liam Jordan was in the stand at Stade Numa Daly in Noumea watching as his father Keryn brought down the curtain on an illustrious career, playing in a testimonial match for New Caledonian soccer star Christian Karembeu.

Fast-forward four years to Saturday's Knockout Cup final at Bill McKinlay Park and the roles were reversed, with dad sitting in the stand and his 14-year-old son coming off the bench to play a major role in Mt Albert Grammar's 3-1 win over Westlake BHS in the season's finale.

Unlike nomadic swimmer Tabitha Baumann, featured in last week's College Sport, Liam Jordan does not hesitate when asked which country he would like to represent.

Born in South Africa, Jordan has no hesitation in pitching for his adopted country.

"I have lived more of my life here than in South Africa," said Jordan, who is already on the verge of breaking into the New Zealand Under-17 team.

"In a way I see myself as more of a Kiwi. We've been here eight years and I'm very happy to call myself a New Zealander."

Since coming here - Keryn was first contracted by Waitakere United - they haven't been back.

Faced with a few options when looking for a secondary school, Jordan and his parents opted for Mt Albert Grammar and the chance to play in Kevin Fallon's academy at the school even if it meant, for the first time, living away from home which was a big deal for an only child.

But he couldn't be happier with Monday to Friday life in the school's hostel and his weekends at home or, more correctly, playing football.

"From day one I thought he would be a footballer," says an obviously proud dad. "He understands the value of hard work. We knew what to expect when we made the decision to go [to MAGS]. We met [principal] Dale Burden, such a personable headmaster who backs all his students.

"As long as Liam is happy, we're happy. Going to the school house, too, was good for him. As an only child he found himself with plenty of brothers. He's the first Year 9 boy to play in the 1st XI for 26 years but he's worked hard to be there."

He is one of eight academy players at the hostel who have a daily morning session from 7am until 8.30am before a rushed shower, breakfast and off to school by nine.

The plaudits keep coming. As recently as Saturday night, he received an email confirming his selection in next month's training squad from which the team to play the Oceania Under-17 World Cup qualifiers and, hopefully, the World Cup will be named.

As a 14-year-old, he would be eligible for not only next year's tournament in the United Arab Emirates but also Chile's 2015 tournament. Jordan already has New Zealand residency - all he needs now is citizenship.

But given the length of time he has been here that, surely, will follow and he will be given the chance to show his undoubted skills at an even higher level.

Fallon insists he's being very patient in the way he handles Jordan.

"My first concern is not to rush him," said Fallon. "He was only 13 when he got into the side. In the final he was only ever going to play off the bench. After playing a tournament in Korea and the nationals here he was very tired.

"He's an unrealised talent and has already shown he's mature in his play and decision-making."

- NZ Herald

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