“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.
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.”