All-Star Riera to tackle Juventus and his idol
This time last year Albert Riera was playing for Auckland City in the national league.
Early next month he will be playing for the A-League All-Stars against Italian giants Juventus.
The latest honour for the Spanish former paramedic comes hard on the heels of him being named the Wellington Phoenix player of the year.
''It is hard to believe,'' Riera said on being told he would be playing against his hero Andrea Pirlo.
''Pirlo has always been one of my idols. I think I will follow him everywhere and try and get his shirt!
''This honour has come totally out of the blue. I was surprised to get the Phoenix player of the year award after missing a lot of the season through injury . . . now this!''
Riera was a standout player for the Phoenix in the early and middle parts of the last A-League season before a serious groin injury, which required an operation, sidelined him for the last three months.
The talented midfielder has been working hard to get back to full fitness during pre-season training and is feeling good.
''It has been tough but I feel I am now getting somewhere and am feeling better every day,'' he said.
''I'm almost there and it is just a matter of getting my confidence back.
''Playing against West Ham United and Newcastle United is going to be exciting and after that is now Juventus.
''It is a great pre-season programme and should prepare us for a good A-League season.''