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

Football: Cup lure as Spaniard stays

Ramon Tribulietx. Photo / File
Ramon Tribulietx. Photo / File

Auckland City FC have secured the services of their profesor de ftbol but missed out on the unique signing of a former Champions League winner.

Coach Ramon Tribulietx has signed on for another season, continuing a long stint at Kiwitea Street.

The Spaniard has put together an unrivalled record at club level in this country, guiding Auckland City to a record five successive Oceania Champions League titles. He made his name with Auckland's spellbinding run to third at the 2014 Club World Cup in Morocco and was also involved in City's successful tournament in Abu Dhabi in 2009 when they finished fifth.

But a Tribulietx-coached side has yet to win a Club World Cup match in Japan, despite credible performances (2-0 v Kashiwa Reysol in 2011, 1-0 v Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2012 and 2-0 v Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2015) against the J-League champions.

The lure of that landmark was believed to be the deciding factor, as the 43-year-old also contemplated offers from two Eastern European clubs before inking a new deal with Auckland City.

There is a nagging feeling Tribulietx belongs at a higher level, but he'll have to bide his time.

Still, it's a coup for Auckland City, who are expected to retain most of their playing squad from last season. Goalkeeper Diego Rivas won't be returning and Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi is currently trialling in Europe.

Ivan Vicelich is unlikely to return to the playing field, although the former All White will again be Tribulietx's assistant.

But the club haven't been able to secure what would have been an unlikely - but spectacular - recruit. It's understood Auckland were approached by a third party offering the services of a former Champions League winner, who has played for some of the biggest teams in Europe and figured at two World Cups.

The deal was for the Club World Cup tournament only, with the player wanting to use the global stage to broaden his appeal in Asia. The deal failed to materialise, but is an illustration of Auckland City's progress over the last few years and pedigree on the world stage.

- Herald on Sunday

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