Queenstown Rovers goalkeeper Daniel Bocciatos is giving the resort’s soccer-mad Brazilian community more than just their World Cup heroes to cheer on.
The hotel porter has been impressing bosses at A-league club Wellington Phoenix during a three-week trial period in the capital.
At age 30, it’s an amazing second shot at glory for Bocciatos, originally from Rio de Janeiro.
He used to be a professional keeper with a string of top Brazilian sides such as CFZ of Rio, founded by former football superstar Zico – but hung up his gloves in 2002 after becoming disillusioned.
Single-guy Bocciatos shifted to Queenstown two and a half years ago and in between hauling luggage at the Heartland Hotel, he’s been turning out for the local Rovers team.
“When I got a call telling me the Phoenix wanted me for a trial I felt like I was a teenager again. I’d love to have another go at being a professional, even at my age, but I’ll just have to see what happens.”
While training and playing friendly matches in Wellington, Bocciatos has teamed up with Phoenix midfield ace and fellow Brazilian Daniel Cortes.
“Daniel’s made me feel very welcome,” Bocciatos says. “We actually played against each other a few years ago in a cup semi-final in Brazil, which my side won, so I’ve enjoyed reminding him of that.”
Phoenix assistant coach Jonathan Gould – a former Scotland goalie – says he’s been happy with Bocciatos and may ask him back when club coach Ricki Herbert returns from bossing the All Whites World Cup campaign in South Africa.
“Daniel has acquitted himself very well and is technically very, very good,” Gould says.
Queenstown Rovers coach Jamie Whitmarsh adds: “We’ve got some excellent players and it’s always good for the club and Queenstown as a whole when they get a bit of recognition. Daniel is a top-drawer keeper.”