In 2014, New Zealand club side Auckland City surprised everyone by finishing third place in the FIFA Club World Cup and English defender John Irving was a key part of their success.
Irving joined the Everton academy at the age of seven and was a stalwart of the Everton youth sides throughout his time at the club, captaining every age group he featured for.
However, despite spending more than fourteen years with the club and twice being named Reserve Player of the Year, he was released from the side in 2009, without making a senior appearance.
Then, at the age of 21, Irving joined Welsh Premier League side Bala Town.
The defender became a crucial member of the squad and was part of the side which qualified for European football for the first in the club’s history in the 2012/13 season.
However, before he had the chance to get his first taste of continental football, Irving took the bold step of moving across the world to further his football career, as he joined New Zealand Premiership side Auckland City.
He was yet again a regular and quickly settled into his new side. Last year saw the culmination of several significant achievements.
First, after missing just two league games all year, Irving helped his side to the ASB Premiership, defeating Team Wellington 1-0 in the playoff final.
Then, after achieving league success, the former Everton defender played in all seven matches as his side won the OFC Champions League, defeating Vanuatu domestic side Amicale 3-2 on aggregate in the final.
Irving, now 25, didn’t stop there as he soon added the OFC President’s Cup title to his growing list of achievements.
However, his best success came arguably in a tournament which he did not even win. Having won the OFC Champions League, Auckland City represented the Oceania Football Confederation in the annual FIFA show-piece, the Club World Cup.
In the first round, Irving scored from 12 yards as Auckland defeated host side Moghreb Tétouan on penalties.
Then, in the next round the defender scored the only goal of the game as his side defeated African champions ES Sétif 1-0 in the quarter-finals.
Although Auckland would go on to lose in the semi-finals to South American side San Lorenzo, Auckland finished on a high as they defeated Cruz Azul on penalties in the 3rd/4th playoff match.
2014 was a superb year for John Irving. Three trophies and a very impressive bronze medal made it a year he will never forget.
This year, the Englishman will try and do it all again, with Auckland looking good to retain their Premiership title.