Bill Tuiloma has earned his spot as a regular in the Portland Timbers starting XI. The 24-year-old New Zealand international has played every minute of the last nine league games, which includes results in four of the last five matches.
Whether it was filling in for a suspended Diego Chara in defensive midfield or partnering with Larrys Mabiala in central defense, Tuiloma has established himself as a professional in his second season with the Timbers.
But it’s been a long and winding road for Tuiloma in a journey that started in his hometown of Beach Haven, a waterfront community outside Auckland.
Wanting their son to realize a dream of playing professional soccer, Tuiloma’s parents sacrificed, taking on extra work and driving many hours in an effort to support him.
Tuiloma’s story, as told by Jamie Goldberg of the Oregonian, is one of patience and perseverance, one that included a failed trial with the LA Galaxy in 2012 in addition to other disappointment throughout Europe. After coming close to signing with Queens Park Rangers, only to be sent away again after not being able to obtain a work permit, Tuiloma was about to give up on his dream at the age of 18.
But his agent gave him one last flicker of hope and Tuiloma’s trial at Olympique de Marseille went so well, he was offered a contract with the Ligue 1 powerhouse. Although he spent much of his time with the club’s second team, Tuiloma became the first All Whites player to appear in the French top flight.
Read more about Tuiloma’s amazing journey here.