In his first season with Auckland City, Lea’alafa not only has his first Champions League medal, but the Golden Ball trophy to go with it.
But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Solomon Islands dual international.
By his own admission, Lea’alafa made a slow start to his fourth season of OFC Champions League football, after stints with Solomon Warriors and Amicale FC.
“I think I started slow in the pool matches. Then when it came to the semi-finals I was like ‘this is my opportunity’.
“I had to do my best and prove myself.”
And prove himself he has.
With former All White and Auckland City captain Ivan Vicelich among the previous winners of the Golden Ball, Lea’alafa finds himself in quite good company.
A concept which is not lost on the 24-year-old.
“I didn’t expect this. It’s a big thing for me, for my career,” he says.
“It’s been a very good season for me overall. I’m very happy.”
Despite his youth, Lea’alafa is an experienced player however he says his time with Auckland City has changed his approach to the game and he’s loving it.
“It’s easy playing with these boys,” he says of his teammates.
“I learn a lot from them, especially the coach Ramon.
“It’s tough for me as an island player to join a team like Auckland City. But they help me a lot and it’s been really good for me and my football.”
The FIFA Club World Cup isn’t until December, but there’s plenty on Lea’alafa’s plate to keep him busy in the meantime.
“What’s next for me? I’ll take a day off,” he laughs.
“Then I’m off to join up with the Solomon Islands national team for the Nations Cup.”
Also in the calendar is the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia in September, and the young talent seems a shoe-in after helping the Solomon Islands to their fifth OFC Futsal Championship title in February.
It’s a busy schedule, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Story courtesy of OFC. For more on OFC Champions League visit www.oceaniafootball.com