All Whites midfielder Joe Bell is a rare breed.
He's young - but plays like a veteran. He's an athlete - but expresses himself like a coach. And he is making an impact in the professional world, after coming through the American college system, an uncommon route for New Zealand footballers over the last decade.
As this youthful All Whites team continue their steady progress on the world stage, no one typifies their pioneering spirit better than Bell.
It's hard to remember a Kiwi player who has looked so comfortable, so quickly in the international arena.
Bell was a student at the University of Virginia when he made his senior debut in November 2019 in Dublin. But he didn't miss a beat, in a calm and controlled display, a standout in the 3-1 loss.
That progress continued at the Tokyo Olympics, where he was an ever present and probably the pick of the Oly Whites midfielders, as they progressed to the quarter-finals.
And Bell's capacity on both sides of the ball was illustrated again in the 2-1 win over Curaçao on Sunday, as he distributed with aplomb, linked well and took up good positions.
"I think I've taken a lot of steps forward [since Ireland]," said Bell. "Back then I was still playing in college in America, which feels like a world ago."
After impressing at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup, as the Junior All Whites reached the knockout stages, Bell had several trials in Europe, but opted to complete his stint at Virginia, helping the Cavaliers reach the NCAA final for only the second time in their history, before signing with Viking FK in Norway's first division in January 2020.
Despite the step up, he only missed one game in his first Eliteserien season and has continued that progress, voted the league's player of the month in August and tracked by English Championship team Barnsley, though a potential move didn't eventuate.
"Norway [has] been good for me," said Bell, who has three goals and nine assists from 49 club games. "And a lot of the other boys can say the same, moving into their professional environments. I've definitely developed a bit more physicality, a bit more understanding of men's football.
"It's tough and we saw that against Curaçao, sometimes you just need to battle to get the win.
"I'm feeling good with the steps that have been made and hopefully moving up into the future and into a more challenging environment."
Those close to the All Whites camp say Bell is meticulous and diligent about his preparation, leaving no stone unturned to get the best out of himself. The 22-year-old is also a sponge, soaking up advice and lessons from the likes of Chris Wood, Tommy Smith and Winston Reid.
"I don't think I can express in words how much you learn as a young player," said Bell. "Not just from a footballing sense, but just with how they approach the game and that tactical understanding.
"Every time I come into this group, I get excited that I get to be around these guys because they are a big part of the New Zealand history. You can't ask for much more as a young player, you have got a piggy bank of resources just sitting there every time you go to breakfast."
Bell, who Hay has labelled a future All Whites captain, was particularly enamoured by Reid's leadership in Japan.
"We talk a lot about playing with mana and Winnie embodied everything that we tried to do with that," said Bell.
"When the team needed someone to step up he was rock solid and that says the most. That's something that I aspire to be one day and hopefully I can become."
Bell was saddened by Gianni Stensness's recent decision to align with Australia, after playing together in various New Zealand age-group teams.
"It's obviously sad," said Bell of Stensness, who is also his Viking teammate. "You kind of feel like you're losing a brother. But you have to respect his decision, [one] he made by himself and for reasons that he valued."
At the end of the current international window, Bell will return to club football ahead of a big 2022 year for the All Whites, with the carrot of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
"There's still plenty more development to be [done]," said Bell. "It's small steps in the direction that we want to be moving. The goal is looking at that Intercontinental playoff."