The Wellington Phoenix will name their new men’s team coach next week after confirming the impending departure of head coach Ufuk Talay.
Talay has confirmed he won’t seek reappointment as he wants a new coaching challenge, and he’ll leave at the end of the Isuzu UTE A-League season.
Talay has been in charge of the Phoenix men since the start of the 2019-20 campaign and is on track to guide the team to a third finals appearance in four years.
He has the best record of any Nix coach, despite having to play out of Australia for two seasons. The team have won 41% of the 103 A-League matches they have played since he took charge, and claimed 1.45 points per game, better than any of his predecessors.
“I’ve got a lot of gratitude towards the club as the Phoenix gave me my first opportunity as a head coach,” Talay said.
“Thank you to the chairman and the board for believing in me and sticking by me.
“Thanks also to the players and staff I’ve worked with over the past four years and, last but not least, the fans for their incredible support.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wellington Phoenix, but I’m ready for a new chapter in my coaching career.”
He believes he will be leaving the team in good hands.
“The club is in a fantastic place with the academy and the facilities at NZCIS.
“I believe the Phoenix have the best set-up in the competition and I know they’ll find a great coach to continue the work that we’ve done for the last four years.
“The club’s heading in the right direction, and I wish them all the best for the foreseeable future.
“Wellington Phoenix will be a club I’ll watch from afar. It will always have a special place in my heart.”
Ufuk Talay was appointed the Phoenix’s head coach in May 2019 after serving as Steve Corica’s assistant at A-League grand finalists Sydney FC.
In his first season in the capital Talay led the Nix to a club-record third-place regular season finish, and was named head coach of the PFA’s A-League team of the season.
Wellington finished just one point outside the top six in his second year, with the team forced to play all but two of their ‘home’ matches in Australia. Despite the challenges the team finished the season on a club record 11 match unbeaten run.
Talay guided the Phoenix back to the finals in 2022, even though the team was again forced to relocate to Australia and had to deal with a Covid outbreak, an injury crisis and a hectic playing schedule.
Chairman Rob Morrison: ‘A fantastic coach’
Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison has thanked Talay for his immense contribution to the club.
“Ufuk has had a massive impact on the Phoenix from the moment he arrived in Wellington four years ago and he will leave foundations that we can build on,” Morrison said.
“He’s been a fantastic coach for us, and has put in place structures and methodologies that we will continue to use in the future.
“I would have loved for Ufuk to stay on, but he has always had aspirations to coach beyond the A-League and I have no doubt he is good enough to do so.
“We have spoken a lot about his future and his desire to coach internationally and I know he’ll be a success wherever in the world he lands.
“I sincerely wish him all the best.”