The Wellington Phoenix have promoted from within to replace experienced goalkeeper coach Jonathan Gould.
Ruben Parker has been appointed to the full-time role for the remainder of the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League season, having deputised for Gould since his departure at the start of last month.
Parker joined the Phoenix academy at the start of the year and has been their head of goalkeeping and the reserves’ goalkeeper coach for the past 11 months.
Director of football Shaun Gill has congratulated Parker on his promotion.
“We believe Ruben is the best young goalkeeper coach in the country,” Gill said.
“Ruben’s got big boots to fill following on from Gouldy and Goffy (Paul Gothard), but he’s impressed everyone at the club over the past month since he’s stepped in to coach our first team ‘keepers.
“He is also highly regarded by Chris Greenacre and the reserves, and his promotion yet again shows the pathway there is from the academy to the first team, not just for players but for staff as well.”
Parker says “it’s a privilege” to be appointed goalkeeper coach.
“I can think back to some of the recent goalkeeper coaches that have been in this role and we’re talking goalkeeper coaches of real quality.
“I’m excited to be given the opportunity and I’d like to thank Gilly and Uffy (head coach Ufuk Talay) for the faith they’ve shown in me.
“Now it’s about doing the best job I can and showing I belong in this role.”
He was coached by both Gothard and Gould before embarking on his own coaching career in his early 20s.
“When I was 18 or 19 and I was in the extended New Zealand under-20s set-up, both Goffy and Gouldy had a part in those camps.
“So initially I had them as coaches and then as I started to get into coaching myself, they were two people I leaned on heavily for advice and as a sounding board.
“I think having mentors of that pedigree has definitely contributed to me being able to step into this role at my age.”
Parker is only 27, but has already built an impressive coaching CV. He has been a goalkeeper coach at the Future Ferns Domestic Programme and the New Zealand U-17 men’s team on top of running his own goalkeeping academy.
“I bring a strong work ethic, dedication and a willingness to learn and adapt. Those are things I’ve practised my whole life and they’ll come out here.
“In terms of time on the grass, coaching goalkeepers and being able to help the goalkeepers be the best version of themselves I think I’ve got relative experience there and I’m keen to apply it in this team.”
Ruben Parker’s transition into the first team has been made easier by the fact the environment mirrors that of Chris Greenacre’s reserves.
“The schedule, in terms of the way that we run the sessions, and the philosophies are aligned to the first team, which gives me a massive head start.
“Even in the periods when I’ve come in to help, the reserves trainings are a reflection of what we do here.
“I’m not saying it’s easy to come into this environment, but it makes it easier because you’re not wondering about certain aspects of the training, or times or philosophies because those things are aligned.
“It gives you the best chance you can to go out and do the job that you’re asked to do.”
Parker has thanked Greenacre and the academy staff for their guidance this year and is looking forward to working more with Talay and assistant coach Giancarlo Italiano.
“In the times that I’ve come in supporting Gouldy or Goffy it’s been really good that the other coaches have taken the time with me, even though I wasn’t fully in that environment.
“I think those seeds that they planted gave me a good foundation to carry on with.
“They spend the time, explain things when they need to be explained and they’re a good sounding board.
“A lot of credit to them for getting me up to speed where I needed to.”
Main photo: Ruben Parker … highly regarded by the Phoenix. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.