Waitakere United has turned to one of its own in making a coaching appointment for the coming 2009/10 NZFC season with Neil Emblen appointed as Head Coach, replacing Chris Milicich.
Emblen is a player of known quality having played in the English Premier League with Crystal Palace before finding his way to New Zealand as an import for the New Zealand Knights in the Australian National League.
Considered by many to be amongst the very best imports ever to play in New Zealand, Emblen has clocked up two seasons for Waitakere United and has been instrumental in the ‘Westies’ making two appearances at the FIFA Club World Cup.
During this time Emblen has begun also to work in coaching, knowing that his future lies in this area of the game. For the past two seasons he has not only played for the club but been employed as Director of Junior Development within the Waitakere United franchise while last season he also acted as assistant coach to Chris Milicich.
“Initially there was some reluctance on my part to apply as I am keen to continue playing but after discussions with the Board and a shared understanding of the need to revitalize the team and introduce new players to this level of football I happily put my name forward. I’m looking forward to reinvigorating the team; this will be a real challenge after a couple of successful seasons but one I am looking forward to.”
Indeed the 38 year old has no plans to cease playing however and will look to his assistants for support in that aspect. Fellow former English professional Darren Bazeley and Waitakere United stalwart Carl Jorgenson have been appointed to work with Emblen.
“While I am fit and enjoying it and contributing, I want to continue playing,” said Emblen. “I can only do this however with the right systems and right people in support roles. In Darren and Carl I know I have that support. Both have huge respect in the game, Darren for his considerable professional playing record and Carl as both a player and more recently a junior coach here in West Auckland.
“The three of us have all been involved with the youth set up at Waitakere United and in the region generally so are well positioned to oversee what we see as a ‘transitional’ period for the club while still looking to deliver results in the NZFC and O-League.”
Waitakere United Chairman Rex Dawkins is looking forward to a new era under a new coaching team.
“Chris Milicich has served us well for the past two seasons in his second stint at the club and took us to an unprecedented double in 2008 with the NZFC and O-League titles. The Board wishes Chris all the best in the future and has no doubt he will find new coaching opportunities in the game.
“But it became clear last season that if we were to further progress we needed to make a change and went to market in search of a new Coaching team. Neil is a player and person of outstanding reputation and mana. He is respected by all in the game, not least by his fellow players.
“His experience in the game at a high level combined with his now extensive knowledge of the game here in New Zealand made him the obvious candidate. The only concern was over his desire to continue playing, but once the right support staff were put in place and the systems made clear, the Board has no doubt that he can manage both with the support of Darren and Carl.”
Emblen will get to work immediately with the first priority recruiting a solid core of players to set out to recapture both the NZFC and O-league titles.