The career of All Whites defender Sam Brotherton has taken a huge step forward after the young defender put pen to paper on a professional deal with English Premier League club Sunderland.
Brotherton, who was a member of the New Zealand squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015 and has seven caps for the All Whites, has signed until the 2019 off-season and will link up initially with the club’s U-23 team.
He will swap Stateside for Wearside after spending the past two years playing for the University of Wisconsin in the American college system.
The 20-year-old sophomore defender was named National Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Week in October, becoming the first Wisconsin Badgers player to earn the award.
— Sam Brotherton (@SamBrotherton96) February 1, 2017
He was captain of the Badges in his second season but said the chance to turn professional was one he couldn’t turn down.
“It was never my intention when I started out at college to leave early but, as things progressed and I gained exposure with the national team, my career has developed faster than I would have expected,” he says.
“When Sunderland came knocking and I went over there and enjoyed myself, I thought it was the right time and the right opportunity to take.”
Brotherton is not the only Kiwi on the books of Sunderland, who last year handed a three-year professional contract to goalkeeper Michael Woud after the New Zealand U-17 international impressed for the club’s U-18 side.
“We played against each other a few times when we were both playing at high school back in Auckland,” Brotherton says.
“It’s nice to know there’s another Kiwi there and we can kind of look out for each other a little bit.”