Ah Van began his career at the New Zealand Warriors, his home city team, where Cleary was Head Coach at the time.
At the tender age of 18, Cleary rewarded the Kiwi his debut for the Warriors against the Manly Sea Eagles in 2006, going on to make over 50 appearances in his four years at the club.
He said, “My debut was a major highlight, being only 18 and playing in front of my home crowd against one of the most successful club’s in the comp- Manly Sea Eagles.
“Steve Menzies soon brought me back down from cloud nine with a killer tackle though!”
Since then Ah Van has never looked back, now plying his trade in Super League where he was at the Bradford Bulls in 2011, before moving to Widnes Vikings at the start of this season on a two year contract.
But the winger has not forgotten what Cleary did for his career six years ago.
He said: “You know, it’s what every kid dreams of… to play for their home city team, and I’m proud to say that I achieved that ambition.
“I learnt so much from the senior players and coaching staff at the Warriors, and I’ll always be grateful to Ivan Cleary for giving me that chance and having faith in my abilities.”
The versatile Samoan international scored 16 tries as well as five goals at the Auckland outfit totalling 74 points.