Gifted Pukekohe local Matt Lieshout signs with Franklin United and has big ambitions for his game as well as developing junior talent.
The former St Josephs Primary School student has had quite a journey since starting in the Pukekohe First Kicks programme. Having continued his youth football at the club, he then went on to represent Saint Kentigern College at First XI level. In his final years at school, Matt was selected to play for the Auckland City Youth team in the summer and continued working on his craft at Ellerslie AFC in the winter. At Ellerslie, he played in the Men’s NRFL Division 1 before taking up an American university scholarship at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. The 2014 season saw Matt start 14 of the 15 games before a move to NCAA Division 1 side Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana.
Matt had a solid three years at the school and in his final season captained the team to its first winning season in Division 1 history. His stellar season included 12 goals in 18 games from his holding midfield role. This came along with accolades such as Summit League First Team, Summit League Tournament Team, named in the USLPDL top 50 college player list and Offensive Player of the tournament at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley invitational, a tournament his team went on to win. Following his time in America Matt played semi-professionally in Sweden before moving to Germany to join two professional clubs VFB Homberg and Wuppertaler SV.
Coach Mark Holt said, “We are very lucky to have a player of Matt’s calibre on board. Having spent time with him at Purdue Fort Wayne, I know what he can offer the academy, our senior squads, but also the community. I am sure his time here will provide a real lift to the Club and shows that local talent has a pathway in the area to go on to chase their dreams in football.”
On signing for Franklin, Matt said, “It’s a great opportunity for me to give back to the local community that gave me so much growing up. I’m looking forward to helping develop the young players we have in our squad and playing in front of the local fans”.