Last season's co-coach Des Buckingham has been granted permission to leave Wellington Phoenix after being approached to work at one of England's largest clubs.
Wellington Phoenix are happy to announce that Des Buckingham has signed a contract with Stoke City and will be taking up a role within their U-23 coaching department.
Stepping in as head coach last season following the resignation of Ernie Merrick, Buckingham and co-coach Chris Greenacre steered Phoenix away from the bottom of the table, falling narrowly short of making the Hyundai A-League finals after six wins, six draws and seven losses in their nineteen games in charge.
Buckingham first joined the club in 2015 as the goalkeeping coach before being promoted as an assistant coach, and then serving as interim co-coach and head coach in 2017.
Buckingham returns to England after three years in New Zealand and whilst sad to depart Phoenix, remains excited about the opportunity ahead.
“I was fortunate to work with excellent people since arriving at the club,” said Buckingham, “and the support provided during my three years from staff, players and fans is hugely appreciated.
“From coaching under Ernie Merrick to working closely with Chris Greenacre, my time living in New Zealand and working in the Hyundai A-League will be fondly remembered.
“Change brings opportunity and I’m excited to continue working with talented players and excellent coaches in a first-class environment at Stoke City FC.
“I wish Darije, the players and the club all the best for the upcoming season.”
For General Manager David Dome Buckingham’s departure comes with mixed feelings, but showcases the club’s ability not just to develop young players, but staff as well.
“It was only a few years ago that [Phoenix] goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould took up an amazing opportunity at West Bromwich Albion,” said Dome, “so to see Des also working inside a Premier League club now is another feather in our cap.”
“Obviously there’s a tinge of sadness seeing Des move on – we’ve always said that in him and Chris we’ve got two of the most promising young coaches in the A-League, but this move will only further enhance his reputation.”
Wellington Phoenix thanks Buckingham for his dedication, professionalism and maturity in helping co-steer the club through a difficult moment in its history.
The club would also like to take this opportunity to confirm that Chris Greenacre will be continuing with Phoenix, and is currently assisting training with the first team.
Wellington Phoenix will announce a new goalkeeping coach to replace Buckingham later this week as they finalise restructuring the coaching department following the appointment of head coach Darije Kalezić and assistant coach Rado Vidošić.