The extraordinary rise of Jai Ingham was capped last month with a call-up to the New Zealand national team. Not bad for a player who, two years ago, was playing semi pro football in the PS4 NPL.
Ingham, 23 has built on his first season with powerhouse Melbourne Victory (where he made seven appearances after signing mid-season) with another strong campaign in 2016/17 in which he’s appeared in 18 games.
He’s learning off the best too with Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Besart Berisha the experienced heads in the Victory frontline.
The former NPL player with Hume City player was first noticed when Victory played them in the Westfield FFA Cup in 2015 – and soon enough he was signed up as a professional with one of the biggest clubs in the A-League.
He even scored in the Asian Champions League last year with a classy finish.
And in February of this year, 13 months after signing, Ingham was given a contract extension with a ringing endorsement from his coach. A month later he was called into the All Whites.
Talk about a rapid rise.
“Jai has improved significantly since he joined the club and has earned a new contract,” said Victory head coach Kevin Muscat at the time.
“He has proven his ability to produce quality football against high-calibre opposition, and we expect him to continue his improvement as a player with Victory.”
And with the experience of playing with international players in the Kiwi national team, Ingham has a bright future, which is why the striker is one to watch in this year’s NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award.
“Being surrounded by so many quality players and coaches has enabled me to learn so much in the last year, and I want to keep working hard to progress my game and prove myself in the A-League,” he told Victory’s website.