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All Whites defender Tommy Smith has lent his support to North Shore City FC's bid to join the ASB Premiership next summer.
Takapuna AFC and North Shore United, who both count Smith as a former player, have joined forces to put in a combined bid to join the national league, when it expands to 10 teams next summer.
The Ipswich Town defender, who has captained his country 11 times in 29 internationals, spent his high school years on the North Shore after emigrating with his family to Browns Bay from Macclesfield in 1998.
He also helped Westlake Boys High School to the New Zealand Secondary Schools title in 2004 before a professional deal with Ipswich in 2007 curtailed his stay in New Zealand.
Smith says football on the North Shore was valuable in his rise to the professional ranks.
"A lot of my football education came during my time on the North Shore and it would be great for young players to have a local pathway into the national league to provide them with more opportunities to progress up the footballing ladder," Smith said.
Former North Shore United first team coach, Tony Jasper, remembers a precociously talented 15-year-old training alongside All Whites in the mid 2000s.
"Tommy was clearly a special talent and that's why he was brought in to the first team as a 15-year-old," said Jasper.
"We had the likes of Jeff Campbell and Chris Jackson still with us then and the younger players like Tommy and others benefitted from mixing it with those guys."
"If we had a strong national league presence on the North Shore again then all those talented players within the Northern Football Federation suddenly have a pathway again."
New Zealand Football is expected to announce the successful bids on December 16.