AUCKLAND – Alessandro Del Piero grabbed the headlines in the build up to the season opener between the Wellington Phoenix and glamour club Sydney FC.
At the end of the 90 minutes it was a local teenager who announced his arrival on A-League stage with a spectacular goal on debut after a breakout 2011/12 ASB Premiership season with Team Wellington.
Louis Fenton’s 75th minute diving header brought the Yellow Fever to their feet and helped the 'Nix to a deserved 2-0 win in front of their faithful.
Fenton is the latest in the ASB Premiership production line to make the step up to professional football, the second from Team Wellington in a week after James Musa turned out for Fulham in the U-21 Premier League on Tuesday.
"Team Wellington has been a bit of a springboard for a couple of players,” said Matt Calcott, who will commence his second season in charge of the capital franchise when the league kicks off in November.
Calcott isn't ruling out other players within the ASB Premiership of his own franchise to kick on to the next level of football.
"They've got to come in and work hard in the amateur environment and they'll get the rewards just like others have," said Calcott.
Del Piero, Sydney FC's marquee signing, brings a wealth of experience 'down under' having amassed over 500 appearances for Italian giants Juventus after making his debut in 1993, the same year Fenton was born.
The 19-year-old was in his 'Nix debut after 11 games in the ASB Premiership last season which brought a tally of seven goals including a four goal haul against Hawke’s Bay United.
His form last season forced his way into Neil Emblen's Oly Whites thinking, and the youngster lined up for the Oceania qualifying tournament in Taupo before bidding Team Wellington farewell and moving across the ditch the play in the Victorian State League.
The transfer meant Fenton was absent for Team Wellington's finals campaign including their 1-4 loss in the final to Waitakere United.
Fenton missed out on selection for the final Oly Whites squad but was lured back to the capital to take a spot in the newly established 'Football School of Excellence'.
The fleet-footed flanker is one of two graduates from the inaugural intake, and follows in the footsteps of former Waikato FC man Marco Rojas to make the jump from ASB Premiership to the A-League as a teenager.
Rojas – also a goalscorer on the opening weekend of season eight of the A-League – followed up a stellar 2008/09 domestic season by taking one of the three mandatory U-21 players in the Phoenix squad.
Starting in a role on the left of midfield Fenton put in a typically industrious performance which comes as no surprise to Calcott when describing the attributes he brought to Team Wellington.
"He brings absolute energy every time he sets foot on the park, his attitude was magnificent and for someone so young to make such an impact in the ASB Premiership was fantastic to see," said Calcott.
Fenton has now made a similar impact in the A-League, and made an ominous prediction on signing his three year contract last month.
"If I get a chance in the A-League I have nothing to lose. They won't know anything about me and it would be nice to surprise a few people," said Fenton.
And surprise a few people he has.