Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Ben Sigmund's football tour rolls into Auckland

Ben Sigmund. Photo / Getty Images.
Ben Sigmund. Photo / Getty Images.

Have football (book), will travel.

Ben Sigmund's tour of the footballing heartland rolls into Auckland this week - culminating in a black tie gala dinner and a star studded charity match.

After starting in Dunedin on May 13, Sigmund has worked his way across the length and breadth of the country, with signing sessions, coaching clinics and evening functions.

The former All Whites defender is on the road to promote his new book "Fully Committed", which details his roller coaster career, in a typically honest way.

But the tour is also about catching up with old friends, and reconnecting with the football community that has given him so much.

"It's been brilliant," said Sigmund. "Extremely hectic but a wonderful time too. It's great to see people from all different stages of my career, and the passion for the game."

Sigmund's book is self published, after the major publishing houses turned him down.

He's grateful to key sponsors, particularly Corporate Consumables, who have underwritten the venture. But it's been a challenge and at one stage last week Sigmund was bartering for a crayfish lunch, swapping a couple of copies for a meal.

He may not make a fortune from the book but is much richer for the experience, where he bares his soul in a manner not always seen in autobiographies.

"It was important to tell my story," said Sigmund. "And I didn't want to hold anything back - you have to be honest. I think people have enjoyed it...they are telling me they can't put it down."

As he talks from his customised camper van - Sigmund is travelling with two friends as well as the book's author Jason Pine - he sounds weary, after a frenetic schedule. But there will be plenty of energy for the climax in Auckland this weekend. After the gala dinner on Saturday night - where former All Whites and Phoenix teammate Tim Brown will interview Sigmund on stage - a collection of New Zealand footballing identities will gather at Onehunga's Waikaraka Park on Sunday afternoon.

There are six or seven members of the 2010 All Whites World Cup squad, a host of former Phoenix player and ex internationals like Danny Hay and Noah Hickey. Media personalities like James McOnie, Andrew Gourdie and Pine, as well as Black Cap Nathan McCullum.

"I've managed to pull a lot of guys out of the woodwork," said Sigmund. "We are celebrating their careers as well - which I don't think we do enough of in this country."

The match, which is free to attend (a gold coin donation will be going to charity), is a friendly affair but could bring out Sigmund's famously competitive nature.

"Tim [Brown] is captaining one team and I am in charge of the other," said Sigmund. "So there are some bragging rights there."

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 28 Sep 2016 11:58:43 Processing Time: 516ms