Winston Reid turned down chance to finish career at Wellington Phoenix

Winston Reid signs a West Ham shirt for a fan following his All Whites swansong at Eden Park last Sunday. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

All Whites legend Winston Reid turned down the chance to finish his illustrious career with Wellington Phoenix as he was reluctant to uproot his family and move home to New Zealand.

After calling time on his 12-year international career, the former Premier League defender left the door ajar for a possible return to the professional ranks.

But after going 12 months without a club following his exit from West Ham, and knocking back an approach from the Phoenix amongst others, it is looking increasingly likely that his All Whites’ farewell will be Reid’s last act on the football field.

The 34-year-old has been based in the United Arab Emirates since leaving West Ham 12 months ago and motivation for playing on appears to have waned since the All Whites failed to qualify for the World Cup.

It has been 18 months since his last club game, which came during a loan spell with Brentford during the 2020-21 season.

“I haven’t been urgently trying to find a situation but I would’ve done that had we made the World Cup. There would have been some time pressure around it,” Reid said upon announcing his international retirement.

“I came back to play a game here, and the rest of the stuff I’ll sort after.”

Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said the club showed “genuine interest” in Reid, and confirmed the pair spoke directly a couple of times last season in the hope of bringing the All Whites skipper to the A-League.

With 166 Premier League appearances to his name, Talay believed Reid would have added considerable experience to his squad and helped shore up a leaky defence.

However, the Phoenix were based in Australia at the time due to the border restrictions in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, which may have made the move to New Zealand’s only pro club less appealing.

“We don’t talk to players if we don’t believe they will add value to the group,” Talay said.

“When I spoke to him it was more about whether he was interested and does he want to make the move?

“He said he wanted to speak to his family about it and once I spoke to him again he didn’t want to come back to New Zealand.

“But things were a little bit different back then with the border and stuff. We didn’t even get into talks of [contract] negotiations because he didn’t want to come back.

“At the time it just didn’t suit him and his family so it just didn’t come to fruition, but at the moment there are no discussions with Winston about this season at all,” he added.

Reid was asked about the Phoenix’s approach following his 33rd and final game for New Zealand in last Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Australia at Eden Park in Auckland.

While he appreciated the interest, Reid said he had different priorities now, his young family being the main one, and they were settled in the Middle East.

“I made a decision back then that I wanted to see the World Cup cycle through, but my family was a big priority and I didn’t want to take them from where they were and move them halfway around the world,” Reid said.

“I also didn’t want to be away from them because we tried that and it was very difficult.

“As I’ve mentioned before, when you get a little bit older you get different priorities in life.

“I spoke with him [Talay] and he understood the reasons and that was sort of it. But I was appreciative of the phone call.”

Meanwhile, the Phoenix flew to Australia on Friday to play one final pre-season hit-out against Sydney FC.

They open the 2022-23 A-League season at home to Adelaide United next Sunday.

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