Football: Wellington Phoenix re-sign coach Ufuk Talay as retention spree continues

Wellington Phoenix’s re-signing spree has continued, with coach Ufuk Talay the latest to recommit to the club.

After two successful seasons with the club, Talay has recommitted to the Phoenix for a further two years. 

After the Phoenix locked away striker Ben Waine for three years, and midfielder Clayton Lewis  and goalkeeper Oliver Sail for two, the club has locked away another important asset.

"We are obviously thrilled as a club, and the advancement on and off the field under Talay's stewardship has been huge,” says Wellington Phoenix chief executive David Dome.

"The way the team are playing, the young players that are coming through from the academy that Talay has brought through, and some of which have gone onto bigger and better things… it's a credit to Talay and what he has managed to achieve since he's been here." 

Talay joined the club for the 2019 season and guided the Wellington side to third place in his first campaign - their best-ever regular season finish. 

In his 49 games in charge for the Phoenix, Talay has recorded 19 victories, 12 draws and 18 defeats. If he wins against Western United on Saturday, he would achieve the best winning percentage of any Phoenix coach. 

Talay joined New Zealand's only professional side from Sydney, where he was an assistant coach, and came to the club on the recommendation of former coach Mark Rudan. 

The Phoenix coach is excited to get the deal over the line as he looks to build a side capable of winning the clubs first A-League title.  

"I'm very pleased to get this over the line," Talay says. "I'm very privileged to be in this role as a head coach of the only actual professional football club in this country."

"I want longevity within the club to build something. Things don't just happen overnight.

"If you want to try and win a championship, and if you look in Europe, it takes three to five seasons to actually win a title.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wellington Phoenix and my family has enjoyed being in Wellington - well in the first season but not so much this season being in Australia - and I still think there's a lot of things we can achieve at this club, so I'm very pleased to continue on for two seasons.

"My preference was to stay at Wellington in a sense that I'd rather be at Wellington four years than go from one gig to another.

"I'm very ambitious myself as a coach, I want to go overseas one day like the players do and I see my time here over the next two seasons to be as successful and ambitious as possible."

The Phoenix were in red hot form and looking good for a top-two finish in the 2019/20 season, before COVID-19 suspended the campaign and stopped their momentum.  

The 45-year-old has them in the hunt for their third straight playoffs appearance, just three points outside the top six with five games remaining.  

The Phoenix have already sold 18,000 tickets for their first game in New Zealand for more than 400 days.