Soccer: Exposito returns to professional football

Auckland City FC striker Manel Exposito is returning to professional football in Europe. Photo / Getty Images.
Auckland City FC striker Manel Exposito is returning to professional football in Europe. Photo / Getty Images.

Auckland City FC striker Manel Exposito is returning to professional football in Europe.

The Spanish forward, who has been one of the more successful imports in the history of the NZFC and O League, has agreed a two year deal with Belgian club KAS Eupen.

Exposito, a former Barcelona player who famously made his first team debut on the same day as a 16-year-old Lionel Messi, has spent three seasons with the Auckland club.

He won three Oceania Champions League titles during his stint, also picking up the Golden Boot in the 2011/12 O- League season. He also played in two FIFA Club World Cup tournaments (in 2011 and 2012) and scored a total of 46 goals in 68 matches for the club.

Exposito joins a burgeoning list of Auckland City players who have left the club in recent seasons to join professional outfits. The list has included Ivan Vicelich (Shenzhen Ruby) , Andreu Guerao (Dinamo Tbilisi), Ian Hogg (Portland Timbers and Phoenix) and Angel Berlanga (Sporting Clube de Goa).

"Auckland City has been a huge part of my life for the last three years," said Exposito. "The club is like one big family and I have made so many life-long friends during my stay in New Zealand. The culture at the club is unique - it is like something I have never experienced before in football. I will miss everyone there a lot."

KAS Eupen are in the Belgian second division.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 31 Jul 2014 23:46:09 Processing Time: 940ms