Chris Wood has joined English football's elite - and will soon get a taste of the rarefied company he is now in.
The All Whites striker, who joined English Premier League team Burnley for an estimated 15 million ($26m) yesterday, could be walking out at London's Wembley Stadium next Monday (NZT) as the Clarets face Tottenham Hotspur. Midway through next month Wood might be playing at Anfield, and in October there are trips to Everton and Manchester City for Burnley.
It's heady stuff, but sums up why Wood had no hesitation in making the move, despite his phenomenal campaign for Leeds last season, when he was the top scorer (27 goals) in the Championship. The Premier League is coveted by footballers across the globe, and when a chance comes up, it's hard to turn it down.
Wood has played in the EPL before, one of only six Kiwis to do so, but it was a brief taste, with two appearances off the bench for West Bromwich Albion as a teenager in 2009/10 and seven games as a substitute for Leicester City in the 2014/15 season.
"My ambition has been to play in the Premier League for years," Wood told Burnley's website. "I've had tastes of being in there but I've never had the chance to give it a proper bash. Coming here I feel I've got a proper opportunity to do that. I've never started a Premier League game and this what I want to do."
Up until now, Wood's longest single game stint in the EPL is 35 minutes, in a match for the Foxes away to Hull in late December 2014. He'll expect to get much more game time at Turf Moor, leading to opportunities and ultimately goals, though it won't be easy. His style is similar to current Burnley striker Sam Vokes, who has scored seven goals in his last seven EPL matches, including a double in Burnley's opening day win against Chelsea.
But EPL teams always carry large squads, and the Lancashire side haven't parted with a club record fee to leave Wood sitting on the bench. He'll get his chance, and then the rest is up to the former Waikato FC player, who will need to justify both the mammoth price and his reported 35,000 weekly pay packet.
But Wood has constantly proven himself, across a number of clubs in a near-decade long career in England, and at 25 is coming into his prime as a striker.
Burnley are beginning their second season in their latest EPL stint, after being promoted from the Championship in 2016. They finished 16th last season, six points clear of relegation. They were impressive at home, but struggled on their travels, not recording their first away win until the last weekend in April.
Kiwis in the Premier League
• 198 appearances Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers; 9 goals)
• 151 Winston Reid (West Ham United; 6 goals)
• 12 Simon Elliott (Fulham FC)
• 9 Chris Wood (West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City; 1 goal)
• 5 Danny Hay (Leeds United)
• 3 Lee Norfolk (Ipswich Town)