Football: All Whites GOAT Wynton Rufer rejects possible name change for national team

Arguably New Zealand's greatest footballer, Wynton Rufer, has labelled the prospect of the All Whites changing their name as "pathetic".

NZ Football is considering dropping the nickname in efforts to become more inclusive.

The moniker has been synonymous with some of the most important moments of NZ sporting history, so news it might disappear hasn't gone down well.

"Come on guys, honestly," insists Rufer, voted Oceania Footballer of the 20th Century. "It's pathetic."

The former Werder Bremen striker remembers how the name emerged during New Zealand's epic qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup. 

At a time when the South Africa rugby tour divided the country, there was benefit to be had from being called the All Whites.

"So to have an association with the All Blacks - this unbelievable amazing brand - was really cool," he tells Newshub. 

Changing the name may come as New Zealand football embarks on a journey around cultural inclusivity and ensuring their organisation is fit for purpose for 2021 and beyond.

"It is too early in the process to speak about any outcomes, but this is an important piece of work, as we strive to be the most inclusive sport in Aotearoa," says NZF.

Responds Rufer: "I understand what they're trying to do, but I'd like to focus on unity."

While many sports have undergone name changes recently, due to their historical and racial links, Rufer believes this is different.

"We played in white shirts," he insists.

Football teams are often nicknamed by their shirt colour - France are called 'Les Blues' and Italy are the 'Azzurri'.

Rufer thinks if the All Whites change their name, it would set an impossible precedent

"Good luck with changing the All Blacks," he laughs.

So far, NZ Football has given no indication when that decision might come.