Buck­ing­ham re­turns as pos­si­ble heir to All Whites throne

Waikato Times - - Sport - LIAM HYSLOP

A po­ten­tial All Whites head coach suc­ces­sion plan is a big rea­son why Des Buck­ing­ham is back in New Zealand.

That plan, as told to Buck­ing­ham by New Zealand Foot­ball tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor An­dreas Heraf, goes some­thing like this: All Whites head coach Fritz Sch­mid men­tors un­der-20s coach Buck­ing­ham and un­der-17s coach Jose Figueira, his All Whites as­sis­tants.

If Buck­ing­ham is ready for the All Whites job when Sch­mid even­tu­ally de­parts, then he would take that on and Figueira will move into the un­der-20s role.

The next promis­ing young coach would move into the un­der­17s job, with the process re­peated un­til the end of time.

Of course, there are no guar­an­tees in sport, so the pro­posed coach­ing path­way may never be­come a re­al­ity, but it played a ma­jor role in lur­ing Buck­ing­ham away from English Premier League club Stoke City.

‘‘That was some­thing which re­ally in­ter­ested me,’’ Buck­ing­ham said in Welling­ton on Tues­day.

‘‘To see the ex­pe­ri­ence Fritz has got in the roles he’s had and his knowl­edge of the game, to be able to work un­der and with him, es­pe­cially in the en­vi­ron­ment we’re go­ing to have for the next four years, from a per­sonal learn­ing point of view, I think it will be re­ally ben­e­fi­cial for me, and I

think there is some­thing I can of­fer back into the foot­ball com­mu­nity in New Zealand.’’

Buck­ing­ham first moved to New Zealand in 2013 as fed­er­a­tion devel­op­ment man­ager at Cap­i­tal Foot­ball. He picked up a gig as Welling­ton Phoenix goal­keep­ing coach soon af­ter, be­fore pro­gress­ing to fully fledged as­sis­tant.

By De­cem­ber 2017, he had been thrust into the role of Welling­ton

Phoenix co-coach along­side Chris Greenacre, al­though his of­fi­cial ti­tle was head coach due to hav­ing gained his pro li­cence two months prior.

The Phoenix opted for Dar­ije Kalezic over Buck­ing­ham for head coach this sea­son, so the 33-yearold left for Stoke to coach their

un­der-23/re­serve team.

‘‘I needed to con­tinue to up­skill my­self in ar­eas that were ob­vi­ous

to me. Stoke gave me the op­por­tu­nity to do that and more. Work­ing with Premier League play­ers on a daily ba­sis, work­ing closely with Mark Hughes and his staff and Paul Lam­bert and his staff af­ter that.

‘‘It just ex­poses you to a whole dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment and two peo­ple with very dif­fer­ent ways of do­ing things, which you try and add and hope­fully puts you in a bet­ter po­si­tion to be able to deal with things bet­ter.’’

Now that he’s back in New Zealand, his im­me­di­ate fo­cus is on the first All Whites match of the Sch­mid era, against Canada on March 24.

A squad for that was ex­pected to be an­nounced on Thurs­day, with Buck­ing­ham say­ing Sch­mid had cast the net wide for po­ten­tial play­ers to call up.

‘‘He’s been very keen to speak with as many play­ers as pos­si­ble that have ei­ther been in­volved, on the fringes, or not in­volved at all.

‘‘He’s trav­elled Europe the last week or so catch­ing up with as many play­ers as he could.

‘‘I spent all day in [Welling­ton on Mon­day] see­ing play­ers in­di­vid­u­ally. So it’s about get­ting around, meet­ing play­ers and try­ing to ex­plain what we’re try­ing to do.’’

His fo­cus will then switch to the

un­der-20s.

They have a camp in Welling­ton in April and one in Auck­land in June, pre­par­ing for the Ocea­nia

Un­der-19 Cham­pi­onship in Tahiti in Au­gust – the qual­i­fi­ca­tion tour­na­ment for the 2019 Un­der-20 World Cup.

GRANT MATTHEWS/STUFF

Des Buck­ing­ham is back in New Zealand as the un­der-20s head coach and All Whites as­sis­tant coach.

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