Chris Greenacre knows he is in the twilight of his playing career but, unlike many of today’s professional footballers, he is also well prepared for the day when he has to hang up his boots.
The Wellington Phoenix striker always knew he wanted to stay in football once his playing days were over and from early on in his career put plans in place to make the transition into coaching by working towards and earning his UEFA B coaching badge.
His appointment in a player/assistant coach role at the Phoenix this season is a testament to that hard work and forward thinking.
So while he may be one of the most competitive players at the club and determined not to give up his No.9 shirt without a fight, the soon-to-be 34-year-old is also realistic.
“(My contract) is up at the end of the season so realistically I could be not playing at the end of the season,” the Englishman admitted.
“But that’s just football. If I got offered a contract tomorrow I’d sign it. I want to be here and I want to play for as long as I can.”
“I’m just slightly different to other players in that I’ve been doing a bit of coaching here and hopefully that’s going to be my future and pathway for the rest of my life.”
He added: “I think it’s always hard to accept it’s over and that’s what really scares a lot of people.”
“I’m just thankful I listened to a lot of good people in football and a lot of people who said early on (start preparing for life after playing).”
“I got the wheels in motion quite early wanting to get my coaching badges and hopefully it will stand me in good stead.”
Greenacre has been a well-respected and well-liked member of the club since he signed on as an import in 2009.
That respect and willingness to listen to the former Tranmere Rovers striker has continued in his new role too.
“I can’t thank my teammates enough. Everyone seems really receptive and that’s all I can ask from them,” said Greenacre.
“It would be easy for them to kind of toss it off but in fairness to those guys they’ve said early doors they would accept it and they’ve got respect for me and that’s all I can ask from them.”
“When I ask them to do something they do it. They’ve been brilliant and they’ve made it quite easy for me.
“I just hope I can come up with lots of different ideas for them and keep them motivated and interested.”
Greenacre also has no immediate plans to leave the A-League either. While he hopes the Phoenix will offer him a new playing contract he says he would also be open to staying on in a coaching role as well.
“It’s something I’d really have to think about because (the playing side of things) is kind of taken out of my hands (with that),” he admitted.
“It’s not something I’ve hidden from and it’s something that’s been on my mind for quite a while.”
“At some point I am going to have to say ‘that’s it’ on the playing front and that’s quite scary to say. But it will happen.”
He continued: “I think the A-League is a brilliant place to learn your craft. There are a lot of good managers in the A-League. I’d love to learn my craft here, definitely.”
“At the moment I’ve got no intentions of going back to the UK. While I’ve got an opportunity at a club like Wellington Phoenix I’d be crazy to not want to take that up.”