Ex-Phoenix boss heading to EPL club

Des Buckingham, the co-coach of Hyundai A-League outfit Wellington Phoenix last season, has left the club to join English Premier League outfit Stoke City.

Buckingham, who worked alongside Chris Greenacre during the 2016/17 Season after Ernie Merrick resigned, will be a coach for the Potters' U-23 outfit.

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He first joined Phoenix in 2015 as the goalkeeping coach before being promoted as an assistant coach, and then serving as interim co-coach and head coach in 2017.

Buckingham returns to England after three years in New Zealand.

“I was fortunate to work with excellent people since arriving at the club and the support provided during my three years from staff, players and fans is hugely appreciated," Buckingham said.

“From coaching under Ernie Merrick to working closely with Chris Greenacre, my time living in New Zealand and working in the Hyundai A-League will be fondly remembered.

“Change brings opportunity and I’m excited to continue working with talented players and excellent coaches in a first-class environment at Stoke City FC.

“I wish Darije, the players and the club all the best for the upcoming season.”

Wellington Phoenix Coach Des Buckingham.

General Manager David Dome added: "It was only a few years ago that [Phoenix] goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould took up an amazing opportunity at West Bromwich Albion.

"So to see Des also working inside a Premier League club now is another feather in our cap.

“Obviously there’s a tinge of sadness seeing Des move on – we’ve always said that in him and Chris we’ve got two of the most promising young coaches in the A-League, but this move will only further enhance his reputation.”