As a former All Whites international who also plied his trade for a stint in the English professional game, Perry Cotton achieved much in a long and distinguished association with the sport.
And for the next step in his football odyssey, the 49-year-old from Napier is relishing the prospect of featuring at the World Masters Games 2017.
Born in the UK, Perry grew up in Palmerston North where his passionate football-playing mum and dad introduced him to the sport from aged “five or six.”
After featuring as a rep player for Manawatu his talent was recognised in the English professional game and he played 33 times for Scunthorpe United during an 18-month period in the late eighties and early 90s. Playing principally as a striker, his team-mates included Neil Cox a future Premier League full back for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before Perry headed home to pursue his All Whites career.
Later shifting to centre half, Perry went on to win 35 caps for his country and scoring one goal against Fiji.
“It was a massive honour to represent New Zealand,” he recalls. “It took me all over the world, I played games in South America and I also remember a couple of big games against Australia.”
Domestically he also won three league titles and three Chatham Cups with Napier City Rovers before hanging up his boots at the top level aged 40.
Consistently playing at a lower level for Taradale in recent years he was introduced to masters football after he was invited to feature in a New Zealand team that play in a top-quality annual eight nation Seniors World Cup tournament in Thailand.
“I love the opportunity to travel and the standard of football is first class,” admits the engineer, who has been a regular in the tournament for the past five years.
Keeping trim with one gym session, one football training session and one game per week, Perry’s next big target is to feature in either the +40 or +50 premiere competitions at the World Masters Games 2017.
“This far out (from the Games) the challenge is to keep in shape and reach a decent fitness level,” admits Perry, 49.
So why after more than four decades in the game does the Arsenal supporting centre back love football so much?
“It’s just a passion I’ve always had,” he says. “I also enjoy the competitiveness as well, I never like to lose. It is a great thing to be able to play every week, it is a good blow out and a great way to meet people and make friends for life.”