Jason Hicks was today coming to terms with the fact that he was no longer a plumber and would be plying his trade as a professional footballer for the next two years at least.
The 23-year-old midfielder, who was born in the English county of Kent and came through the ranks in New Zealand with East Coast Bays, Waikato and Auckland City, has landed a two-year contract with the Wellington Phoenix.
“It has all happened very quickly; one minute I was working as a plumber and a week later I am a pro footballer,” Hicks said.
“Like many kids I always wanted to be a pro but never expected it to happen the way, or at the speed, it did.”
After playing at under-17, under-20 and Olympic level for New Zealand, Hicks made his senior debut for the All Whites “A” team that took on the Wellington Phoenix in Rotorua last month.
Hicks played well enough in that game for Phoenix head coach Ernie Merrick to invite him to trial with the Phoenix.
Again he did well enough to be signed as an injury replacement for Louis Fenton for the opening rounds of the Hyundai A-League.
In the Phoenix’ first two games against Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney
Wanderers Hicks was used as a substitute and again Merrick was impressed enough with the way he handled himself in a white hot atmosphere that he offered him a two-year deal.
“Jason is a very good young player who has played for New Zealand at all junior levels and was very impressive against us in Rotorua,” Merrick said.
“While he was trialling with us we had the opportunity to play him in our first two competitive A-League games and he didn’t look out of place.
“He is an up and coming young New Zealand player who fits in with the brand of football we want to play.”
Hicks said he enjoyed playing against the Phoenix in Rotorua, and didn’t feel out of place when thrown in the deep end against Brisbane Roar and the Wanderers.
“It has helped that the senior players have welcomed me into the dressing room and made me feel comfortable,” Hicks, who was coached by his father John till he was 17, said.
“They have encouraged me from the moment I walked in and when I got on the field they gave me plenty of support.”