Three All Whites and U-23 international unveiled as first signings for Auckland FC

posted in: A-League (Men), All Whites, News

After weeks of speculation and anticipation, Auckland’s new A-League expansion club have revealed their first signings.

Three All Whites and a New Zealand U-23 player are the first to be unveiled as members of Auckland FC’s men’s A-League squad for next season.

They are:

  • Cam Howieson (29), midfielder, long-time captain of OFC Champions League winners Auckland City, and 17 caps for the All; Whites.
  • Francis De Vries (29), left back, currently with Eastern Suburbs and six appearances for New Zealand.
  • Michael Woud (25), goalkeeper, most recently with Japanese club Kyoto Sanga, and six caps for the national team.
  • Jesse Randall (21), left wing, currently with national champions Wellington Olympic, and an U-23 New Zealand international.

Main photo: New signings (from left) Francis De Vries, Jesse Randall, Cam Howieson and Michael Woud.

Cam Howieson.
Francis De Vries.
Michael Woud.
Jesse Randall.

Woud, De Vries and Howieson all bring international experience with the All Whites, with Randall an experienced international at U-23 level.

Head coach Steve Corica said: “We are building a club that has a strong connection to Auckland. We wanted our first player announcements to be talented New Zealanders who have experience both locally and internationally.

“Michael is a great shot-stopper and is really excited to be returning home. I know he will be fighting for the chance to play in front of his friends and family.

“Both Francis and Cameron have been two of the most consistent players at a national level, and we have been tracking Jesse for a while now, and he has a huge amount of potential.

“All four players suit our attacking style of football; they will all be making their A-League debuts next season and will want to impress the home crowds.”

Corica said more players would be announced in the coming weeks, now the A-League season has officially ended.

Head coach Steve Corica … ‘All four players suit our attacking style of football.’

Auckland FC CEO, Nick Becker said: “All four players signed today represent what we have said we would do from day one. We are building a club that is embedded in the community and creates new opportunities for players in Auckland.

“It is really special to have players who have a genuine connection to Auckland and its football clubs.

“Cameron Howieson has played over 114 games locally, has enjoyed a lot of local success with Auckland City and is incredibly popular with the local football community.

“Cam now has the opportunity, along with the others, to showcase their talent in the A-League and potentially overseas through our multi-club ownership.

“The level of energy and excitement for the club from the grassroots, social leagues and on the street has been incredibly humbling. This is just the start and we’re going to make Auckland proud.”

Auckland FC is majority owned by Texas billionaire Bill Foley, with former All Black Ali Williams and businesswoman Anna Mowbray as local co-owners.

Known as the Black Knights, Auckland FC will play their home games at Mt. Smart’s Go Media Stadium when the 2024-25 season starts in October 2024.

Auckland City’s Cam Howieson (left) and Wellington Olympic’s Jesse Randall battle for midfield possession during an OFC Champions League play-off. Soon, they’ll be teammates. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Cameron Howieson

Born in Blenheim, he has played professional football with Burnley (England) and St Mirren (Scotland), before returning to play at Auckland City in 2016.

“Football growth in New Zealand has exploded massively. Having a second club in Auckland FC will give the country a healthy dose of rivalry between the two clubs which makes it entertaining,” he said.

“I’m so excited to be part of this movement in our home country, it’s such an exciting time. Playing professionally again is something I’ve been working towards since coming back home.”

Francis De Vries

His professional career includes a spell with Swedish professional club IFK Värnamo and off the pitch, he has a degree in psychology and runs an online mentoring programme.

“Now you can feel the excitement through all age grades at suburb level and in schools,” he said.

“It’s an honour to be part of what Auckland FC will create for young players, their families and the wider Auckland communities in getting everyone motivated and inspired by football.”

Francis De Vries in action for New Zealand during the FIFA World Cup Oceania qualifiers final against the Solomon Islands. Photo credit: OFC Media / Phototek.

Michael Woud

An established professional, Auckland-born Woud has played for clubs in the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Japan.

“This is special for me because I grew up here, having spent my childhood playing club football in Auckland. I have been away from home for the last nine years, and I’m so excited to come back and prove myself in front of my friends and family,” he said.

“It is about time Auckland had a football team to call its own, and I can’t wait to see the home fans at Mt Smart this October.”

Jesse Randall

Wellington-born Randall played his junior football for Miramar Ranges, island Bay United and North Wellington before getting a US college scholarship with Northern Kentucky University when he was 18. He spent last year with USL club Charleston Battery, returning to join Wellington Olympic for this year.

“I grew up watching Winston Reid and more recently, Chris Wood in the English Premier League, and it just felt so far away from New Zealand,” he said.

“With Auckland now having a team in the A-League and part of a wider group of clubs across the world, younger players can now see a pathway into professional football.”

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