Callum McCowatt doesn't believe the Wellington Phoenix saw the best of him.
The 21-year-old kiwi attacker has left the A-League club after one season to join Danish side Helsingor FC. Speaking from Denmark, McCowatt admits to a tinge of disappointment over his first full season as a professional footballer.
"It was OK, but I don't think I quite reached my best to be perfectly honest," said McCowatt.
"It was multiple things. I didn't score as much as I wanted to. In terms of minutes, I did play a lot but really wanted to play more.
"The team was full of talented players which made it tough," he said.
While he featured in 25 of the Phoenix's 27 games, McCowatt was in a season-long battle with Australian attacker Reno Piscopo for a spot in the starting eleven. He started the first six games of the season before Piscopo was preferred up to Christmas.
The pair started together in a 3-1 win over Western United (which included McCowatt's only A-League goal) before Piscopo departed for Australia's Olympic qualifying campaign, leaving McCowatt to start the next four matches. When Piscopo returned, McCowatt again dropped out and started just two of the last 12 games of the season.
"Maybe here and there, in a game or two, I played my best but over the 27 games I just didn't really reach that consistent level," McCowatt said.
"But I made some good friends and really enjoyed working under Uffie (coach Ufuk Talay) and all the coaching staff. I'll look back on it with fondness and it was a really fun time in my life."
McCowatt trialled with Helsingor last year before joining the Phoenix on a one-year deal, but the Danish outfit kept tabs on him and were quick to snap him up when his contract came to an end. He joins fellow kiwis and great mates Elijah Just and Dalton Wilkins at the club, the trio having first played together as young boys at the Ole Football Academy in Porirua. McCowatt has begun training with his new side, but can't play matches until his work visa arrives, which he expects to happen within days.
Helsingor won promotion to the Danish First Division last season, the second tier of football in Denmark, beneath the Superliga. They open their new campaign on Friday at home to Silkeborg, who were relegated from the Superliga last season.
"They're going in the right direction," said McCowatt of his new club.
"They got promoted last year and are looking to get promoted again so they're on a good roll.
"The club is well run with good people and good coaches and the standard of football is quite good as well. The trainings are very intense and sharp and all the players are very hungry."
The timing of McCowatt's move may also play nicely into his hands as far as his international aspirations are concerned. The All Whites are scheduled to play Belgium in Brussels next month with New Zealand Football trying to arrange more fixtures for that Fifa window.
With international travel still heavily restricted, coach Danny Hay will name an entirely European-based squad, which McCowatt, Just and possibly even Wilkins are set to be a part of.
"Every fixture from now, I want to be in the team," said McCowatt, who scored on his All Whites debut against Ireland last November.
"It would be a privilege to get called up into the team to play Belgium, the world's number one side. I'd love to play for the All Whites as (often) as possible."