Teenage midfielder Matt Dibley Dias could be the next New Zealand-born player to play in the English Premier League.
The Lower Hutt-born youngster was an unused substitute for Fulham in the London club’s 5-3 win against Leicester City on Tuesday (May 9).
Dibley-Dias (19) has been in strong form for Fulham’s U-21 side and is being touted as a first-team player in waiting.
Main photo: Matt Dibley-Dias … on verge of breaking into Fulham’s first team. Photo credit: Fulham FC.
With Fulham firmly in mid-table, the club has three games left this EPL season — against Southampton, Crystal Palace and Manchester United — and he could make his debut.
‘(He has) the strength of a New Zealand rugby player’
Dibley-Dias is eligible to represent four countries — New Zealand, Brazil, Portugal and England — and has two years left on his Fulham contract.
He has indicated he wants to play for Brazil, following his grandfather Manoel José Dias (dubbed Manoelzinho) who averaged a goal every two games for leading Brazilian clubs Flamengo and Corinthians in the 1960s.
When signing him to his first pro contract in 2021, Fulham development manager Huw Jennings said Dibley-Dias had “the skill of a Brazilian and the strength of a New Zealand rugby player’’.
More Fulham connections
Three All Whites have previously been on Fulham’s books:
- Simon Elliott (at Fulham 2006-08, playing 12 games), 69 internationals
- Chris James (at Fulham 2005-07, no games), 22 internationals
- James Musa (at Fulham 2012-13, no games), 3 internationals
Two more New Zealanders have also trained at the Fulham academy in the last three years.
Mirko Brinkmann (18), now with Hamilton Wanderers, and Albie Francis-Alles (17), who plays for Western Suburbs, trained at the London club through a placement scheme organised by the Ricki Herbert Football Academy.
Dibley-Dias scores against Everton in Youth FA Cup
In 2022, Dibley-Dias scored from a direct free kick in bizarre circumstances.