New Zealand footballer: Winston Reid

New Zealand footballer Winston Reid is one of a new generation of Kiwi players making waves on the international footballing stage.

Winston (Wiremu) Reid was born on the 3rd of July 1988 in Auckland - New Zealand’s largest city - in the North Island of New Zealand to parents of Māori descent.

Keen footballer

A keen footballer from a young age, Reid started out playing for Milford School and local football club Takapuna AFC, but it was a move to Denmark with his mother and Danish step-father when he was eight that really set the wheels of his future in motion.

While in Europe, Reid's talents saw him sign a youth contract with local club SUB Sønderborg. His effort and work rate gave him a chance to rise through the ranks at Danish Superliga club FC Midtjylland. Already impressing at youth level, Reid was one of the first players to graduate from the club’s football academy.

In 2005 Reid signed a professional contract with the FCM, making his senior debut at just 17 against Norwegian side Vålerenga. Despite being a defender, Reid was inclined to score the odd goal, something which he did for the first time against AaB Fodbold in the 08/09 season.

During his time at FC Midtjylland Reid’s talents were being noticed, but even though he had played international football for Denmark at U-19, 20 and 21 level, his heart was always in New Zealand.

Pledging allegiance

In 2010, as the New Zealand All Whites World Cup qualifying campaign ramped up, Reid shocked his European followers by pledging his allegiance to New Zealand - much to the delight of former All Whites coach Ricki Herbet, who reportedly had never seen the centre-back play.

Reid made his international debut for New Zealand in a friendly against trans-Tasman rivals Australia in March 2010. His no-nonsense approach to defending and on-pitch flair immediately caught the eye of All Whites fans and the national coach.

But even Herbert couldn’t have predicted just how much of an impact the then 21-year-old would make on the biggest sporting stage on the planet. Placed in a group with experienced footballing nations - Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia - New Zealand was expected to be a push-over.

At the 2010 FIFA World Cup the All Whites were trailing 1-0 in their opening game against Slovakia before the defender headed New Zealand to a draw in the dying seconds. The last-gasp goal not only gave New Zealand their first-ever point at the World Cup finals, it also gave the All Whites, New Zealand and their fans the chance to dream.

Reid makes his mark

Underdogs New Zealand did not progress from the knockout rounds but drawing three out of three of their group games saw them emerge as the only unbeaten team at the tournament - and Reid’s name was on the lips of football pundits the world over.

In August 2010 the versatile defender was snapped up by English Premier League club West Ham United, making him one of only a handful of New Zealanders to play in the world renowned competition (other players include Ryan Nelsen, Danny Hay, Simon Elliot and Chris Wood).

At the time, Reid credited All Whites coach Ricki Herbert for putting in a good word with former West Ham manager Avram Grant who Herbet had worked with in the past. Reid enjoyed a steady first season at West Ham while adjusting to the English game. He made his first appearance for the club in August 2010 against Aston Villa, scoring his first goal in a West Ham shirt during an FA Cup clash against Burnley in the same season.

Kiwi determination

Reid’s inherent Kiwi determination saw him continue to give his all to the club after West Ham were relegated to the Championship (first division) in the 2011/2012 season. West Ham bounced back up to the Premier League where Reid continued to flourish. He was named ‘Hammer of the Year’ in 2013 - becoming just the third player from outside Europe to be awarded the honour.

The 2013 season proved to be a stellar one for Reid who was given the prestigious title of All Whites captain after New Zealand stalwart Ryan Nelsen handed in his armband.

Apart from football, another of Winston Reid's biggest passions is his connection to his Māori heritage. Reid’s ancestry comes from Tainui, a Māori iwi (tribe) with roots in the central North Island on his father's side, and Te Rarawa tribe affiliated with the Far North of New Zealand on his mother's.

It was Reid's desire to give back to New Zealand and to celebrate his roots that led to him playing for New Zealand, telling New Zealand’s TV3 before the World Cup of his intentions: "If I can help other young Māori players to start off in soccer, that could be good. Hopefully I can help New Zealand football in that."

Promise fulfilled

Reid fulfilled his promise after the 2010 World Cup, setting up the Aotearoa Footballers’ Charitable Trust with Leo Bertos, Jeremy Christie and Rory Fallon - three other All Whites of Māori descent.

Reid added to his place in New Zealand footballing folklore when he came to New Zealand in 2014 with West Ham United to play in the Football United Tour with fellow Premier League team Newcastle United.

During the whirlwind pre-season tour West Ham played agaist the Wellington Phoenix at Eden Park and Sydney FC in Wellington's Westpac Stadium. During rare downtime Reid showcased his place of birth to his fellow team-mates with a trip up Auckland's iconic SkyTower and a special visit to Weta Workshop and Peter Jackson's Park Road Post in Wellington.

More information

Beginners' Guide to the Wellington Phoenix