Between studying business and aspiring to take over his father’s Italian restaurant – Liberato Cacace is part of an exciting new wave in New Zealand football.
At just 19, ‘Libby’ has made 28 A-League appearances for the Wellington Phoenix and very much epitomises the new Phoenix under Mark Rudan – finals bound for the first time since 2014/15.
With the club’s style of play catching the eye of many football fans across both countries – Cacace says the team is desperate for success and will stop at nothing to reach what they have set out to do.
“I think we can go all the way – we’ve taken points off everyone in the league and with fourth we’re looking at a home final,” he said.
“We’re yet to play finals football but everyone can see we’re fighting for it.
“We want to win games for the city, for the club and for the fans.
“We don’t look behind us… there’s a big blue this weekend so someone will drop points so if we win we’re a chance to go higher.
“It’s good playing every week but being part of a team that’s doing well is really special – especially when you’re young.”
Cacace has featured in 21 of the 23 matches this season – and believes the team has repaid Mark Rudan for the faith he showed in them.
Rudan has been heavily praised for turning the Phoenix into contenders after the club spent several seasons suffering on-and-off the field.
“The first thing he changed was our mentality – we were down in pre-season and straight away he made us believe that we are the best team in this league and we’ve shown that we can beat anyone,” Cacace said.
“He’s made us fit and strong and he’s brought in players who believe in our journey and players who have made the culture so enjoyable.
“It’s a great time to be part of this club.”
Wellington travel to Hindmarsh Stadium to face Adelaide United this Sunday.