Former Hawke's Bay United football goalkeeper Matthew Gould has realised another dream by being named in the New Zealand All Whites squad for two matches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai next week.
Born in England and the son of Napier-based former Scottish international Jonathan Gould, Matthew left the Bay at the age of 20 in 2014 and signed for Cheltenham Town in the UK.
He has been called up to replace 27-cap All White Stefan Marinovic, who has withdrawn from the men's national team squad ahead of the games against Jordan (in Abu Dhabi, starting Saturday 4am NZDST) and Uzbekistan (in Dubai next Wednesday 4am NZDST).
The matches are part of the build-up to the All Whites' World Cup qualifying matches against Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Caledonia in Qatar in March.
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Gould has been playing for English club Altrincham FC since 2020, and will join a squad which still has goalkeeping strength in existing squad members Michael Woud and Jamie Searle.
In 2010, at the age of 17 and a student at Lindisfarne College, Hastings, Gould was called into a New Zealand Under-17 squad.
Marinovic has tested positive for Covid-19, despite being fully vaccinated, and has not travelled to join the side in Abu Dhabi.
Instead, he will stay in Israel with his club Hapoel Nof HaGalil. If he recovers while the team are still in camp, the option will be explored for him to rejoin the side.
Head coach Danny Hay was disappointed to lose Marinovic but confident in the other goalkeepers in the squad, adding: "Obviously first and foremost we wish Stefan a speedy recovery. Luckily he isn't experiencing any major symptoms and is vaccinated so I'm sure he will be back on the pitch soon."
"The situation also now gives us the opportunity to bring Matthew Gould in for the first time, someone who has been on our radar for a while."