New Zealand Football has confirmed that John Herdman is stepping down as Football Ferns head coach after five years in the position to take up the head coaching role of Canada's women's national team.
Herdman, who joined New Zealand Football in 2006 after four years working in a regional development role, will also step down from his role as NZF Director of Football Development to begin his new role with the eighth ranked Canadians next week.
While a difficult decision to make, Herdman said ultimately a fulltime coaching role building a team for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, to be held in Canada, was too good to turn down.
"It's exciting personally and professionally to go on to coach a team that's got the potential to win a World Cup in their own country," Herdman said.
"Coaching is my passion - it's what I get out of bed for every day and this is an opportunity to do something special.
"The last ten years working here at the grassroots and elite levels in New Zealand have been great, and I'm thankful for the opportunities the country has afforded me. My experience in New Zealand has really stood me in good stead to move on to this next opportunity.
"One of my goals is always to put something down better than I found it and in the time that I've worked in both roles I've had a few wins that hopefully have left both programmes, whether it be football development or the Football Ferns, in a stronger position and ready for a new future."
New Zealand Football Chief Executive Grant McKavanagh praised Herdman's contribution to football in New Zealand.
"We're disappointed to lose John, but he leaves with our blessing and best wishes. It's a success story that shows that the kiwi coaching system can provide an international pathway for our coaches as well," McKavanagh said.
"He leaves behind a strong legacy, not just for women's football but for football development as a whole.
"John was a key driver in the research and creation of our award-winning Whole of Football plan which has since been built on by a group of committed federations chief executives and talented and passionate development staff at NZF headquarters and in every region of the country."
"The Football Ferns have also seen a massive increase in professionalism and competiveness under his stewardship."
Under Herdman the Football Ferns achieved their best results since the 1980s, breaking a 15 year drought for a win outside their own Oceania confederation.
Since 2008, New Zealand has claimed the notable scalps of Argentina, Netherlands, Italy, Scotland, Wales and Colombia, while notching draws against Japan, Canada and England and Mexico.
The Ferns qualified for FIFA Women's World Cup in 2007 and 2011, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, won two Oceania championships, were runners-up in the 2010 Cyprus Cup and are currently two games away from completing qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.
As head coach of the Junior Football Ferns Herdman also reached two FIFA U-20 Women's World Cups, in 2006 and 2008.
Many members of Herdman's first U-20 team are now fixtures in the senior team and six of them - Ali Riley, Kirsty Yallop, Sarah Gregorius, Katie Hoyle, Emma Kete, Ria Percival - are now full time professionals in the USA and Europe. Older players Amber Hearn - who ended a four year absence from the national team in 2008 - and Hayley Moorwood have also turned professional in the last two seasons
- © Fairfax NZ News