Phoenix Coach Joins World Elite

Ricki Herbert reached the top of the coaching ladder yesterday after a 20-year climb when a letter from Fifa arrived telling him he had joined the elite of the world’s football coaches.

Ricki Herbert reached the top of the coaching ladder yesterday after a 20-year climb when a letter from Fifa arrived telling him he had joined the elite of the world-s football coaches.

The communication, from Fifa Technical Director Jean-Michel Benezet, informed the Wellington Phoenix coach he had been appointed to the Panel of Instructors and Lecturers for Fifa Courses.

The appointment, which took effect on January 1 this year, means Herbert joins 29 other coaches from throughout the footballing world on the panel.

Herbert said he was surprised, and delighted, to be put into such a category.

“Very few people in the world get an appointment like this, and I believe it is recognition for what New Zealand achieved at the World Cup finals last year,” Herbert said.

“We must have been doing something right for this [appointment] to happen.”

While Herbert is undoubtedly correct in saying it is recognition for the All Whites- performances in South Africa, it could not have happened had he not worked his way through the coaching system over a long period.

Herbert thought he had reached the coaching pinnacle on being awarded the coveted UEFA Professional Licence in June 2008 and didn-t anticipate this latest appointment. “I suppose it is also a reward for the work I have put in over the last 20 years or so.” he said.

“It has been a long, tough battle but one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

“I have been privileged to be involved in football for so long. For many people their involvement ends when their playing career comes to a halt, but it was always my ambition to stay in the game.

“I have to thank New Zealand Football and Terry Serepisos for giving me the opportunity to do that.”