Sigmund's footy clash a 'dream'

23:38, Jul 22 2014
Ben Sigmund
CAREER PEAK: Ben Sigmund can't wait to face English Premier League giants Newcastle United at Westpac Stadium.

Ben Sigmund wants Wellington Phoenix fans to come out in force and support the players during their "dream game" against an English Premier League giant.

This weekend Wellington Phoenix will take on Newcastle United as part of the Football United double-header clash at Westpac Stadium, where West Ham United will also take on Sydney.

For Sigmund, "playing against the big boys" will be a career peak.

"I'm getting towards the end of my career - how often can a player say they played against a Premier League side? So, for me, this will be a career highlight."

Professional footballers were scouted at a younger age now - at 15 or 16, he said, and it was important for them to get out of New Zealand as soon as possible if they wanted to follow their idols such as West Ham's Winston Reid into the Premier League.

But he warned it would be tough. "They perform week in and week out - it's not easy."

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The compensation was that Premier League players made "heaps" more than an average player in the Australian A-League.

An average Premier League player earns about £35,000 (NZ$68,000) a week, compared with a few-thousand dollars in the New Zealand league.

The fact "big" teams were coming to play in New Zealand - Newcastle arrive in Wellington this afternoon- showed how far football had come in the past 10 years, he said.

The 33-year-old wants to play a pivotal role in the game but is confident the younger players will perform well. "It is up to us to perform, and give Newcastle a good tough game - they are not here for a holiday."

The home game would be better if there was a full house.

To showcase Premier League teams in Wellington was good for the long-term future of the Phoenix, but it came at a price.

"Bums on seats are important for helping the team, because the costs of getting them here are high."

The Dominion Post