Coey Turipa finally has his chance to turn potential into proof.
The Nelson Suburbs No 1 has signed on to play for Canterbury United in the upcoming ASB Premiership - his first real chance to don the gloves on a regular basis in the country's premier domestic football league after long-serving custodian Adam Highfield took up the role as goalkeeper coach.
Turipa, a former New Zealand under-17 and under-20 representative, was in the Canterbury United squad as a youth player back in the 2010/11 season but despite sitting on the bench for the first team he did not make a single appearance in the ASB Premiership.
Since leaving Canterbury United in 2011, Turipa spent a season in Brisbane with the Wynum Wolves before returning to New Zealand to play for Nelson Suburbs in the Mainland Premier League, Lower Hutt in the Central Premier League and the Nelson Marlborough Falcons in the ASB Youth League.
At 23-years-old and still harbouring an ambition to become a professional and to play for the All Whites, the former Nayland College student believes now is the perfect time to kick on with his career.
"It's a good opportunity. It's the highest level in New Zealand and the beauty of being a goalkeeper is you can play into your late 30s if you look after yourself right, so I don't think it's too late for me, I'm still getting more knowledge about the game as the years go on and I'm still starting off," Turipa said.
"This is a good stepping stone and hopefully we can get in to the O-League and if we win that then we could get in to the FIFA Club World Cup where the scouts are."
Turipa has been in fantastic form for Nelson Suburbs this season, keeping 11 clean sheets for a team that holds the second best defensive record in the league, conceding just 17 goals in 20 games.
His efforts have impressed incoming Canterbury United coach Willy Gerdsen, who said Turipa's ability to operate as a sweeper, his confidence under the high ball and his strong distribution skills ticked a lot of boxes for the "modern goalkeeper" they were after.
"Coey is regarded as one of the up and coming goalkeepers and he's had a good season. He wants to play at the highest possible domestic level and that is the ASB Premiership and I think he's ready to step up," he said.
"It's up to his performances to see whether he can claim the No 1 spot but it's obvious that it's his clear goal; to play on a regular basis."
Gerdsen said Turipa wasn't the only Nelson player he has shown interest in, with Ben Wright, Atkin Kaua, Omar Guardiola Ross McPhie and Sam Ayers all attracting some attention throughout the season. However, not all of them were available with McPhie already in the United States on a scholarship and others declining due to work and family commitments.
At this stage Turipa is the only Nelson Suburbs player whose signature has been confirmed.
The ASB Premiership kicks off in November.