Phoenix duo pleased with NZ debuts

A pair of Wellington Phoenix talents took their first steps on the international stage on Friday as Matt Ridenton and Jason Hicks made their All Whites debuts against South Africa at Mt Smart Stadium. Article courtesy of NZ Football

Article courtesy of NZ Football

A pair of Wellington Phoenix talents took their first steps on the international stage on Friday as Matt Ridenton and Jason Hicks made their All Whites debuts against South Africa at Mt Smart Stadium.

For Ridenton, the teenager followed in the footsteps of his father Michael who played 14 times for New Zealand between 1988 and 1995.

Matt, who has now joined up with the Junior All Whites for a tour of China, says making his All Whites bow at home in front of his family is something he-ll cherish for the rest of his life.

“It-s pretty special, in front of my father, in my home town,” Ridenton said. “It-s a pretty amazing feeling and I was just glad to get out there.”

The 18-year-old has completed a rapid rise after the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October last year - joining the Phoenix soon after and now ticking off his first All Whites cap while eyeing a role with the New Zealand side at next year-s FIFA U-20 World Cup at home.

“It-s all been a blur since I left school last year. It-s happened quickly and I-m just lucky to have the opportunities to play in such great events and I-m looking forward to the future.

“One of the goals from when you-re a kid is to play for the All Whites and to do it at such a young age is a great thing. Hopefully there are many more caps to come and hopefully a few goals as well.”

Meanwhile, Hicks too has made a quick ascent to the international arena - just 12 months ago the 24-year old was playing for East Coast Bays AFC in the Northern Regional Football League.

“It was good,” Hicks said, “it was probably what I expected and I really enjoyed it. It-s a privilege to play for your country and I-m just happy it happened.”

Hicks now turns his attention back to his club team, reporting today for pre-season with his first All Whites appearance giving the attacker a boost as he seeks regular international caps.

“I-ll head back to Wellington and start pre-season with them, hopefully look to kick on a bit and hopefully I will get selected for the next tour. We-ll see what happens.”

Goalkeeper Tamati Williams and defender James Musa also made their senior international debuts in Friday's match.