“Tactical genius”. Just one of the descriptions of new Wellington Phoenix head coach Ufuk “Uffy” Talay by players who have been mentored by the 43-year-old.
After Mark Rudan left Phoenix to join expansion club Western United this month, Sydney FC assistant coach Talay was unveiled at Westpac Stadium by Phoenix's owner.
Talay, a former Galatasaray, and Sydney FC midfielder is one of the savviest up and coming coaches, according to those he’s mentored.
Talay has been quietly building his reputation and understand clearly the difference between being a head coach and an assistant.
Sydney FC rising star Joel King was coached by Talay in the Australian national youth set up over the last few years, including in the Young Socceroos.
The 18-year-old full back progressed to Sydney FC from the AIS/FFA COE where he was reacquainted with the former Turkish league star in the Sky Blues youth team.
And last season in the first team, a season in which King made his senior debut in the league and in the Asian Champions League, Talay was an assistant to head coach Steve Corica.
“I’d say Uffy was a tactical genius. You have to adapt tactically in the modern game,” King told FTBL.
“I’ve had Uffy as a head coach and an assistant coach at the AIS and he was great.
“When he was the head coach he was a bit more serious and not so much your ‘friend’, but again this year as an assistant coach at Sydney FC he was easy to talk to.”
Talay will have big coaching boots to fill after Mark Rudan’s departure for United.
But those in the know are convinced the man dubbed the best player to have never represented Australia at senior level will emerge with his reputation further enhanced.
And with Phoenix best youth players causing a sensation for New Zealand at the FIFA U20 World Cup, Talay’s experience with the Young Socceroos will be vital as he plots Phoenix’s rise to the finals once more.
The sensational Sarpreet Singh and Libby Cacace just two of the Phoenix young brigade who will be relieved to know Talay has this type of experience on his CV.
His experience as a 19-year-old player signing for a huge club in the hothouse of Turkish football - where he signed from NSL club Marconi to giants Galatasaray along with English league stars Dean Saunders and Brad Friedel - will stand him in good stead.
Talay’s playing resume spans the A-League, France and the Turkish Super League.
Talay has already targetted a finals finish in his first season.
“I agree with Joel, Uffy is an intelligent coach,” says powerful former Sydney FC central defender Patrick Flottmann.
The 22-year-old played under Talay in the Sydney FC youth and senior sides before leaving Moore Park last December for the rapidly improving Thai leagues.
Flottmann added: “Also, Uffy had a good balance between being firm and respected, yet also was approachable.
“You feel like you can have a chat with him.”