TALENTED Clarets teenager Cameron Howieson has earned called up by New Zealand for their tour of the United States and 2014 World Cup qualifying round.
Howieson, who played in last summer’s Under 17 World Cup for the All Whites, has been included in the senior squad for the first time after making his first team debut for Burnley towards the end of the season.
The 17-year-old, who has signed a two-year professional deal, said: “It came as a bit of surprise. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.
“I am very excited about it. It was always my childhood dream to play for the All Whites so this is a big achievement.
“I thought I might be involved in the Under 20 World Cup but to be in the senior squad is a bit of a surprise but the coach wants me there.
“I have been training with the first team and been involved for the past couple of months and the coach thinks that Championship players can be involved in the senior squad. Hopefully I am capable of fitting in.”
The New Zealand squad have friendlies against El Salvador in Houston on May 23rd and Honduras in Dallas on the 26th.
The All Whites will then play Oceania Round Two qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in the Solomon Islands from June 2nd-10th, with fixtures against Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the host country.
And if Howieson impresses, he could put himself in the frame for a place in the New Zealand squad for the London Olympics.
New Zealand based sports journalist Paul Moon takes a look at Howieson’s rise, exclusively for Express Sport -
Burnley supporters are not alone when fervently hoping Cameron Howieson’s immense promise can be fulfilled through an extensive and successful playing career. Back in his native land, the 17-year-old’s progress is being followed with great interest by all football fans via a watchful local media.
The degree of their attention can be easily explained. In 126 years of existence, New Zealand soccer has produced just two players who have made a lasting impression beyond their home shore. Express readers will be only too aware of one, Ryan Nelsen, whilst the other - Wynton Rufer - won numerous honours with Germany’s Werder Bremen back in the 1990s.
It is, of course, too early to place Howieson on the same sphere and no close observer of the game need be reminded of the dreadful attrition rate amongst football’s precocious talent. However, if eventually claiming genuine stardom, he will have to thank four people in particular for providing it with a foundation.
Like many boys, Howieson’s earliest coaching was provided by his father, but this exceeded merely demonstrating basic skills at the park. Upon discovering nobody had made themselves available to take charge of the Mosgiel club’s Under 12 team Cameron wished to play for, Scottish migrant Dave Howieson and good friend Fred Jansen picked up the gauntlet.
Their side was to dominate the grades as it progressed through Dunedin junior competitions, with the younger Howieson either scoring or creating the bulk of Mosgiel’s goals for those four seasons. He became a regular in Otago representative selections too.
At the age of 14, Cam, as he is still called by old friends, began attending Otago Boys’ High School and here came under the wing of Mike McGarry.
Once a Newcastle United apprentice, McGarry won 87 caps for New Zealand and is acknowledged as being amongst its most skilled midfielders of all time.
Now a long serving head of O.B.H.S.’s physical education department, he has overseen the school’s football combinations since 1987.
“Cam’s skills on the ball were always evident,” McGarry recalls. “He also had considerable vision and awareness of the opportunities he could create for others, as well as an exceptional work ethic for such a youthful and able player. He was keen to learn and develop from the outset; readily listening to advice and training hard. His gifts were obvious to everyone playing with or against him. He has the ability to go a long way.”
Howieson immediately appeared alongside students several years older than himself in the High School first XI and sometimes faced men two decades his senior when called up by Mosgiel Reserves.
He then gained a scholarship to Christchurch’s Asia Pacific Football Academy, situated 360 kilometres north of Dunedin, where Graham McMann became his next mentor. An admirer since seeing Howieson wearing Otago colours at an Under 14 tournament, McMann took an active hand in the next stage of the youngster’s development.
Asia Pacific has links with Chelsea, yet McMann believed Burnley offered a better environment for his protege to flourish, having a stint guiding the club’s junior line-up on his own CV.
Clarets management initially took McMann’s effusive praise of Howieson with a pinch of salt and he had to call upon former colleague Ian Brennan to add his weight before the Antipodean was finally granted a trial.
The trial quickly confirmed Howieson’s credentials, which were underlined by eye catching performances whilst helping his country’s Under 17 side become merely the third New Zealand standard bearers to qualify for the knockout stage of a FIFA championship.
Doubtless, if Howieson can prove himself able to hold his own in the Championship, New Zealand senior team boss Ricki Herbert will be seeking the teenager’s services for World Cup qualifying action later this year.
But, this would deny him the opportunity to represent his father’s birthplace. Scottish FA officials have reputedly already made overtures, and caps for the Scots would offer much more in terms of cash and kudos than anything the All Whites can deliver, while being far less disruptive to club aspirations.
Moreover, he is eligible for Samoa, through his mother, but the Pacific islands nation can be discounted as a possibility due to its lowly international status and irregular fixture list.
A role with New Zealand at the London Olympics would not jeopardise his Caledonian option though and he has expressed a desire to aid the New Zealanders’ cause in the 2015 World Under 20 Championship they are to host.
At the moment, Cameron Howieson can be forgiven if believing the world is indeed his oyster!