Four-cap All White Nando Pijnaker has crossed Europe to join League of Ireland club Sligo Rovers.
The 22-year-old defender has arrived at Sligo on a season-long loan from Portugese club Rio Ave.
The move will give Pijnaker the chance to secure a first team spot in a Sligo side that has qualified for European competition via the UEFA Conference League.
Pijnaker told the Rovers website:
“It’s fantastic to be here. It’s a move that appealed to me and my main motivation is to play matches and help the team. I know the season is 36 games, plus cup football and European games, so I know a chance will come at some point and I will take it.
“I spoke with the manager a couple of times and I was impressed by what he said. He had been speaking with my agent and I felt this was a good opportunity to go to a team playing European football at a good standard as well.
“The manager spoke about how he likes to play and I think it will suit me as a defender. I like to think I’ve got many aspects to my game but playing out from the back is one of them.
“My main job is defending and I’m really looking to show what I can do here. I trained with my team-mates for the first time this morning, I’m ready to play and be part of what looks like a really good club.
“Ireland as a country is quite similar to New Zealand in many aspects. I think I’ll be able to adjust and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and playing in front of the supporters in The Showgrounds.”
Pijnaker featured in the New Zealand U-23 side that reached the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics tournament last year.
Dutch-born Pijnaker emigrated with his family to Rotorua and made his senior debut, at 15, for Bay of Plenty side Ngongotaha after playing for the local Western Heights High School.
He moved to Wellington to join Olé Football Academy and coach Declan Edge, turning out for Western Suburbs in the Central League.
In 2018, he joined Auckland club Eastern Suburbs and was part of its ISPS Handa Premiership side that qualified for the OFC Champions League.
Since then, he’s played for Swedish club Torslanda IK, Swiss outfit Grasshopper and then moved to Portugese side Rio Ave in August 2020. Last year, he was loan to Danish side FC Helsingør.
Photo: Courtesy of Sligo Rovers
More All Whites on the move
The following New Zealand internationals have changed clubs recently. They include:
Myer Bevan (Auckland City to Cavalry FC (Canada)) – click here for more details >>>>
Joe Bell (Viking (Norway) to Brøndby (Denmark))
Liberato Cacace (Sint Truidan (Belgium) to Empoli FV (Italy), loan
Alex Greive (Birkenhead United to St Mirren (Scotland) – click here for more details >>>>
Chris Wood (Burnley FC (England) to Newcastle United (England) – click here for more details >>>>
Michael Woud Almere City (Netherlands) to Kyoto Sanga FC (Japan)
Nikko Boxall (SJK (Finland) to San Diego Loyal SC (United States))
Elliot Collier (Chicago Fire (United States) to San Antonio FC (United States)