Waikato teenage striker Tyler Boyd was rewarded for an impressive pre-season with a three-year Wellington Phoenix contract last night.
The 17-year-old was presented with his No 12 shirt at the Wellington Football Hall of Fame awards, becoming the first of two under-21 players on the A-League club's books.
“From as early as 4 years old I had made my mind up that I wanted to be a footballer,” Boyd said.
“What has happened in such a short time is amazing, and I still find it hard to believe that I am now part of the squad along with the likes of Paul Ifill, Mark Paston and Andrew Durante.”
Attacking midfielder Louis Fenton is expected to be the other under-21 signing after an impressive tour of India.
Boyd was the first graduate of the club's school of excellence to receive a professional contract. It was less than three months since he arrived in Wellington with seven other youngsters hoping for a big break.
“I had my eyes set on one of those spots. I was lucky enough to score a few goals early in the piece and that helped my confidence."
Boyd initially made his mark with Melville United during the latter stages of the 2011 Northern League premier division season before attracting further attention as a regular starter for Declan Edge's Waikato FC side in the 2011/12 ASB Premiership. Boyd netted seven times for Melville this year before chasing his dream in Wellington.
Former Phoenix striker Chris Greenacre, now the assistant coach, talked up Boyd, describing him as a natural goalscorer.
"He's got a quick turn of pace, he's quite strong, he can link play as well and bring players into the game. And his attitude has been a different class," Greenacre said.
Boyd adds to the Phoenix's list of striking options after Belgian international Stein Huysegems was signed last week, joining Paul Ifill, Benjamin Totori and Jeremy Brockie.
Ifill, though, is battling a knee injury and is rated 50-50 for their A-League opener against Sydney FC in Wellington on October 6.
- © Fairfax NZ News