Update: Greenacre sticks with Phoenix and will coach national men’s U-20 side

Wellington Phoenix men’s reserves head coach Chris Greenacre has been named New Zealand men’s U-20 head coach and says he’s rejected overtures to join Auckland’s new A-League club.

He’s committed to stay at the Phoenix for two more years and will perform his club and national team roles concurrently.

Greenacre (46) has been head coach of the Wellington Phoenix men’s reserves since 2022, his second time in the role, guiding them to a second place finish in the 2023 Central League season behind eventual national champions Wellington Olympic. 

He has previously been assistant head coach for Wellington Phoenix men, as well as the New Zealand men’s U-20 and U-23 sides and holds the AFC Professional Coaching Diploma. 

Greenacre also acknowledges he has been the subject of speculation linking him to the yet-to-be-named Auckland A-League expansion club and says he won’t be joining them.

Instead, he has committed to two more years with the Phoenix.

“It was important for me to explore some other avenues because I’ve been at the Phoenix for so long, and I’ve become part of the furniture here,” Greenacre said.

“The club were really supportive of me and I have huge respect for them for that.

“I’m not someone that likes a lot of change, but it’s something that I needed to explore for me and my family.

“At this moment, it wasn’t the right move for me.

“I’ve made a life here. My wife’s here and my daughter’s here so it would have been difficult to leave Wellington.”

Main photo: Chris Greenacre … will carry out national squad and club roles at same time.

Prior to coaching, Greenacre played more than 450 games as a professional, most notably for English club Tranmere Rovers, before ending his 17-year career at Wellington Phoenix where he made over 80 appearances in the A-League. 

Keir Hansen.

Keir Hansen, New Zealand Football General Manager High Performance, said:

“Chris brings a wealth of experience of the domestic and overseas professional game, player development, and football in New Zealand to the role, so we are really pleased to have him on board. 

“This is an exciting time for football in Aotearoa and we look forward to him leading the U-20 team in the next World Cup cycle.”

Greenacre said:

“The opportunity to be the head coach of the reserves for another couple of years and also have the opportunity to take the national team are two things that don’t come around very often.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with some terrific players and terrific staff on both sides of the fence.

“I don’t think there’s anyone better qualified right now. I’m on the grass every day with the players of that age-group so I think I’m perfectly placed to take the next generation forward.

“The chance for to me tie two entities together is something that is quite unique and there are probably not many jobs in the world like it so I’m very privileged to have this opportunity.

“It’s an exciting time and it’s the right move for me right now.”

Greenacre has been part of the New Zealand U-20 coaching staff previously and was one of All Whites head coach Darren Bazeley’s assistants at the Olympic qualifying tournament last year.

“It was a really good experience to be involved in the qualifying campaign in September.

“The support that I’ve had from the national team set-up has been amazing.”

Wellington Phoenix director of football Shaun Gill said: “As well as being a great bloke, Greeny is one of the best coaches in New Zealand and we are thrilled he is staying on for another two years at the Phoenix.

“He has done a fantastic job helping develop the next generation of Nix footballers, several of whom have graduated to the men’s first team squad this year.

“It’s understandable Greeny wanted to look at what else was on offer outside of the club, but we are delighted he’s decided to still call Wellington home.

“We’d also like to congratulate him on his appointment as head coach of the New Zealand U-20 men’s team.

“No one in Aotearoa right now has better knowledge of players in that age-group and we believe he is the perfect person for the role.”

Greenacre will start in the national U-20s role immediately. 

READ MORE: Chris Greenacre secures sought-after pro coaching licence >>>>

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