Shane Smeltz: Silent Assassin
Don't underestimate New Zealand, and don't underestimate Shane Smeltz
Born: Sept. 29, 1981, in Goppingen, Germany
Clubs Played for: From 1999-2005, Smeltzy bounced around teams in New Zealand and Australia before travelling to England in 2005, and impressing during brief stints with league-two Mansfield Town and non-league sides AFC Wimbledon and Halifax Town. In 2007, Smeltz established himself as New Zealand's top striker when he joined the Wellington Phoenix of the A-League and scored 21 goals in two seasons. Last season, the 28-year-old moved to Gold Coast United and led the league in scoring with 19 goals.
International career: The short striker made his debut with the All Whites in 2003 and has scored 15 goals in 27 appearances. His most impressive string of international appearances came in the 2008 OFC Nations Cup when he scored eight goals as New Zealand won its fourth title.
Why is he so special? To gullible defenders, Shane Smeltz might seem a lazy striker – he doesn't have much pace nor does he take defenders on when he has the ball – but what Smeltz might lack in style, he makes up for with his execution. When the ball does fall at his feet, Smeltzy is almost always inside the box and the ball almost always ends up in the back of the net.
His most famous moment: In the lead-up to last summer's Confederations Cup, New Zealand faced Italy and put on an impressive performance in a 4-3 loss. Smeltz scored the opening goal with his head off a Leo Bertos free kick.
He said it: "It would be a dream to score in a World Cup and hopefully get the right result for my country as well."
What they’re saying about him: "Shane went from relative obscurity to being one of the best strikers in the Hyundai A-League." – Tony Pignata, Wellington Phoenix chief executive
Here is an interesting fact: Smeltz is second all-time in A-League scoring with 39 goals, six behind fellow Kiwi Archie Thompson, who has 46. Smeltz, however, has scored more goals in fewer games (39 goals in 57 games) than Thompson (46 goals in 93 games).