Football: Outgoing Ufuk Talay's gratitude to Wellington Phoenix after A-League elimination confirmed

Outgoing Wellington Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay has expressed his gratitude towards the A-League's only Kiwi club, with his departure imminent after Friday's 2-0 defeat to Adelaide United.

With Talay's future already confirmed, signalling he would leave the club at the end of the current season last month, Friday's loss brings about the end of his tenure in the capital.

In four seasons, Talay won 41 of his 105 games in charge of the Phoenix, second only to Ricki Herbert's 54 victories from 154 games.

And of the Phoenix's fulltime head coaches, only Mark Rudan (39.29 percent) boasts a higher winning percentage than Talay's 39.05.

Ufuk Talay and Giancarlo Italiano.
Ufuk Talay and Giancarlo Italiano. Photo credit: Getty Images

However, two seasons came with the Phoenix forced to play exclusively on the road, based in Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

Arriving in Wellington before the 2019/20 A-League campaign, the Phoenix was Talay's first job as a senior head coach.

Now, four years on, the 47-year-old says he's thankful for the chance he was afforded. 

"It's been a challenging four seasons, to be honest," said Talay. "Being away for two seasons based in Australia because of COVID was challenging.

"But there was a lot of moments for growth for myself in those times. For me, I have a lot of gratitude towards this club.

"They gave me my first opportunity as a head coach, to be able to showcase my talents - similar to the players on the field.

"I've worked alongside some very special people and I'll be watching from afar."

Talay now hands the reins of the Phoenix over to assistant coach Giancarlo Italiano, who'll take charge of the team from next season.

Coupled with the club's new training base in Wellington, Talay says the bulk of the remaining squad - despite several key players following him out the exit door - can give fans hope that he won't be missed. 

"The club's in a fantastic spot at the moment with the team," he added. "They've got a good core group of players that are retained for next season, that's something for Chiefy [Italiano] to build on next season.

"Facilities-wise and academy-wise, I think the club's in a fantastic space in developing their own.

"I think the club's heading in the right direction, I think it's in a fantastic place moving forward."

As for his own future, while unconfirmed exactly where he'll end up next, Talay says to expect an announcement in due course. 

"There's a few things bubbling in the background. I think we'll find out at a later date, I believe."