Chris Greenacre hopes his first coaching role will be the start of a long and fulfilling career in the job.
Greenacre, 34, was today confirmed as assistant coach at the Wellington Phoenix after a successful three-year stint as a striker with the club.
Along with goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould, Greenacre has been running pre-season training while head coach Ricki Herbert has been away with the New Zealand under-23 without a contract.
That has now been rectified with him signing a two-year deal and Greenacre is pleased his role, which will also involve being responsible for the Wellington Phoenix ‘A’ team, has been formalised.
“There was never a real problem about a contract. I just wanted to make sure I got things right,” Greenacre said.
“A coaching contract was obviously a first for me and it is completely different to a player’s.
“I can reel a player’s contract off by heart, but I needed to go through this one with my agent who has looked after some high profile coaches in England.
“Now it is all settled I can’t wait for the season to get going.”
Giving up playing wasn’t easy for Greenacre who entered football as a Manchester City apprentice aged 16.
“You never want to hang up your boots; you think you can play for ever. But it comes to a point where you have to be realistic and look at where your next options are,” he said.
“Retiring from playing has probably come a bit earlier than I hoped but this opportunity might not have been on the table in a year’s time.
“Maybe I could have played another couple of years, and I had offers from two Australian A-League clubs to do so, but in the end I had to look to the future.
“Ricki spoke to me some time ago and offered me the assistant coach position and I am grateful to him and the owners for the opportunity.
“It is a great chance to establish myself as a coach with an elite group of players and it is a bonus that I can do it at this football club.”
It isn’t always easy to make the transition from player to coach at the same club, but Greenacre doesn’t envisage any problem.
“Gouldy and myself hit it off from the start and have many of the same coaching ideals,” he said.
“I get a bit of stick from the players but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“They understand what I’m going through. Away from the pitch we are still good friends but when it is time to come to work they know what it means.
“On the odd occasion I’ve had to raise my voice they have responded in a positive manner and have given me the respect they would give any other coach.
“With Ricki being away it has been full on for Gouldy and myself but it means I haven’t had time to think about not playing.”