Team Wellington goalkeeper Phil Imray gives up on return to Britain

2 04 2011

Imray celebrates winning the Chatham Cup last year

Team Wellington goalkeeper Phil Imray has conceded defeat in his dream to return to English football.

The 27-year-old was born in Worcester but moved over to New Zealand as a teenager to study a two year diploma in Sports Performance and link up with the Ole Soccer Academy in Wellington.

In 2008, Imray travelled back to the UK for trials with Hibernian, Motherwell and Stockport County but failed to secure a contract.

He told British Footballers Abroad: “My trial with Hibernian went ok. I was caught cold in a friendly game against Raith Rovers. We drew 0-0, but the physical side of the game caught me a bit off guard having played in New Zealand for a while. I didn’t do myself justice in that game, and I know I didn’t show enough to be offered a contract.

“I personally felt I did very well at Stockport but they could have signed me or loan a keeper from Everton. They went for the safe option of a more experienced player which was very disappointing but I understood why. I came back to NZ and got picked up by the Wellington Phoenix on a short term contract as cover for the injured Glenn Moss which was great.

“Being 27-years-old, coming back to England to trial without having a long term professional club on my CV probably rules me out from coming back. It’s a hard and expensive process. My line of work (personal trainer in a gym) also means I would have to leave my clients and risk losing a lot of business so it’s not something I am actively looking at doing. But if the chance came up I would definitely look at it.”

Imray has been a success story in New Zealand having played for the Western Suburbs in the 2006 Chatham Cup final where he saved three penalties against Eastern Suburbs. He also played in the senior NZFC last season for Team Wellington, captaining the team on a number of occasions.

Asked if he was surprised that more English players were moving to New Zealand and Australia he said: “Not really. They are both great countries to live and work in and you can play a good level of football with some really well run clubs.

“The standard in the ASB Premiership is decent. It is potentially similar to lower level English leagues but it is a different type of game. Not as physical but a good level of skill.”

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