Never say never but Goffy’s gone

Central Leader - - SPORT -

Auck­land City FC’s pur­suit of football’s ASB Premier­ship and OFC Cham­pi­ons League ti­tles must be made with­out coach Paul Gothard, who is step­ping down.

The 39-year-old for­mer navy blues goal­keeper and as­sis­tant coach an­nounced his un­avail­abil­ity for the next cam­paign to club of­fi­cials last week.

‘‘It is not a de­ci­sion I have taken lightly and it has been one of the hard­est calls I have had to make in my football life,’’ Gothard says.

‘‘But af­ter four sea­sons with the club I feel it is now time for me to spend more time with my fam­ily and con­cen­trate on them and my job of sell­ing houses.’’

Gothard joined Auck­land City in 2009.

He played in the navy blues epic fi­nal match at the FIFA Club World Cup in the UAE as they swept to a fifth placed fin­ish by de­feat­ing African club cham­pi­ons TP Mazembe.

He stepped into the goal­keeper coach­ing role the fol­low­ing sea­son while also re­main­ing part of the play­ing squad be­fore ac­cept­ing the as­sis­tant coach man­tle af­ter Aaron McFar­land stood down to pur­sue his in­ter­na­tional coach­ing ca­reer.

Auck­land City won the OFC Cham­pi­ons League for the third time in a row last sea­son and qual­i­fied for the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco sched­uled for later this year.

‘‘I will be watch­ing the re­sults keenly and hope­fully one day I may be able to get in­volved again. Never say never,’’ Gothard says.

Chair­man Ivan Vuk­sich says he is dis­ap­pointed to hear of Gothard’s de­ci­sion. ‘‘Goffy has been an in­te­gral part of the Auck­land City set-up since he joined the club in 2009.

‘‘He is very well re­spected by the play­ers along with ev­ery­one else in­volved at the club. We are nat­u­rally dis­ap­pointed to lose some­one of Paul’s cal­i­bre, how­ever we re­spect his rea­sons for step­ping down.’’

Gothard’s re­place­ment will be named in due course and will join the team’s man­age­ment staff which re­mains largely un­changed from last sea­son.

Step­ping down:

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