Former Wellington student lands deal with Mexican champions

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Former Wellington schoolboy Eugenio Pizutto has landed a contract with Mexican champions Tigres.

Midfielder Pizutto (21) joins Tigres following an injury-disrupted spell with Portugal’s Sporting Clube de Braga B, the reserve team of SC Braga.

AS Mexico reports Pizutto was confirmed as the Liga MX club’s second pre-season signing, after passing “a rigorous medical examination”. His contract is believed to be a two-year deal.

Five years ago, he was playing for Scots College in Wellington and attracting interest from the Wellington Phoenix who invited him to academy training. He played 40 games for the college over two seasons.

Mexican-born, and with an italy-born father and Mexico-born mother, the wide attacking midfielder came to prominence at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in which Mexico were runners-up, and Pizzuto won the Bronze Ball at the tournament for his individual performances.

Pizzuto played 15 games for Mexico’s U-17 side and has made five appearances for the national U-21 team.

Since then, injuries and being out of favour at European clubs has hindered his career.

He played one game in 2020 for Mexican club Pachuca before joining French club Lille where he failed to get a first-team start in two seasons.

In January 2022, he joined Braga, but had limited opportunities.

How Pizzuto came to New Zealand

When he was 12, Pizzuto was spotted by New Zealand-based scout Jess Ibrom at player trials held in Mexico in 2013, in which he and his brother Guillermo took part.

Ibrom was recruiting for the Asia Pacific Football Academy, for which he was the high-performance coach. That academy became what is now known as the Wellington Phoenix academy.

Eugenio Pizutto (second from right) … supported the Wellington Phoenix during his time in New Zealand. Credit: Eugenio Pizutto Instagram image, 2015.

After Pizzuto came to New Zealand, Ibrom told Stuff’s Phillip Rollo:

“Our model was not only to recruit the best talent we could find in New Zealand but also abroad; South-East Asia, Latin America and other countries. Mexico we had good links there and we would go over on a regular basis and watch players.

“The profile of the Mexican player is so different to the normal Kiwi player but when you mix them in the same training group it really, really accelerates all of their development.”

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