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Backpacker not packing his bags for home just yet

EYEBROWS were raised last October when Wellington coach Ernie Merrick offered Spaniard Albert Riera one of the club's five precious import slots.

After all, the 30-year-old former paramedic had arrived in Auckland three years earlier as a backpacker, just looking to spend some time abroad.

But after impressing for Auckland City in the ASB Premiership, Merrick offered Riera (pictured) a trial and then a contract for the 2013/14 A-League season.

Riera has played all 15 games for the Phoenix this campaign, and no one, apart from his family back home in Spain, was surprised when the club extended his contract to the end of the 2014/15 season earlier this week.

"Because I came here for one year, it's been nearly three years now," he said.

"So, I just surprised them every year, more and more and they keep asking me 'when are you going to just finish and come back here?'.


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