Buckingham returns as possible heir to All Whites throne
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
‘‘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
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.
Des Buckingham is back in New Zealand as the under-20s head coach and All Whites assistant coach.