Best New Zealander Soccer Players of All Time

Vince Massara

New Zealand has produced a number of exceptional soccer players throughout its rich history in the sport. From the skillful footwork of Wynton Rufer to the commanding presence of Winston Reid, these athletes have made a lasting impact. But who can claim the title of the best New Zealander soccer player of all time? Let's take a closer look at their talents and achievements to find out.

Wynton Rufer is widely regarded as one of the greatest New Zealand soccer players. Known for his technical skills and goal-scoring ability, Rufer had a successful career playing for clubs in Europe, including Werder Bremen in Germany. He was also a key player for the New Zealand national team, scoring crucial goals in important matches.

Ryan Nelsen is another player who deserves recognition for his contributions to New Zealand soccer. Nelsen was a strong and reliable defender, known for his leadership on and off the field. He played for top clubs like Blackburn Rovers in England and was the captain of the New Zealand national team during their historic World Cup appearance in 2010.

Chris Wood is a modern-day New Zealand soccer star who has been making waves in the English Premier League. Known for his goal-scoring prowess, Wood has consistently found the back of the net for clubs like Leeds United and Burnley. He has also been a key player for the New Zealand national team, leading their attack in important matches.

Winston Reid is another player who has left a lasting impact on New Zealand soccer. A commanding presence in defense, Reid played for West Ham United in the English Premier League for many years. He was known for his strength, aerial ability, and leadership qualities. Reid has also represented the New Zealand national team in multiple international tournaments.

These are just a few examples of the exceptional New Zealand soccer players who have made their mark on the sport. Each player brings their own unique talents and contributions to the game, making it difficult to determine the best of all time. However, one thing is certain – New Zealand has produced some truly remarkable soccer players who have left a lasting legacy in the sport.

Wynton Rufer

Wynton Rufer, a legendary New Zealand soccer player, has an impressive record of scoring 224 goals in over 500 matches throughout his illustrious career.

Rufer played a crucial role in helping New Zealand qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 1982. He also had a successful club career, playing for Werder Bremen and winning the German League title along with two German Cups.

In 1992, Rufer scored the winning goal in the UEFA Cup Winners final, further showcasing his impact on the international stage.

His remarkable achievements were recognized when he was awarded the title of Oceania Footballer of the Century in 1999, highlighting his significant contribution to the sport.

With his goalscoring prowess and ability to perform at both the national and international levels, Wynton Rufer solidified his status as one of the best New Zealand soccer players of all time.

Ryan Nelsen

Ryan Nelsen, an experienced footballer and former coach at Toronto FC, had a significant impact on the world of soccer with his impressive defensive skills and leadership abilities. Born on October 18, 1977, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Nelsen began his career playing for his hometown club, Christchurch United. He later went on to represent the New Zealand national team, where he served as the captain and became a key figure in the squad.

Nelsen had successful stints with various clubs around the world, including DC United, Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur, and Queens Park Rangers. During his time with DC United, Nelsen played 81 games and scored 7 goals, showcasing his versatility as a defender.

After retiring as a player, Nelsen transitioned into coaching and served as the head coach at Toronto FC from 2013 to 2014. Under his leadership, the team made it to the MLS playoffs, demonstrating his tactical acumen and ability to motivate his players.

Throughout his career, Ryan Nelsen exemplified the qualities of a top professional football player. His disciplined defending, strong leadership, and commitment to the game solidified his status as one of the best New Zealand soccer players of all time.

Chris Wood

Chris Wood, the vice-captain of the New Zealand national football team and a striker at Burnley, is known for his exceptional goal-scoring abilities. He started his career with Hamilton Wanderers and Cambridge FC before catching the attention of clubs like West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City. However, it was during his time at Leeds United in the 2016-2017 season that Wood truly shined, emerging as the top scorer and showcasing his consistent ability to find the back of the net.

Wood's talents also extend to the international stage, where he's made significant contributions to the New Zealand national team. With 57 appearances and 24 goals, he's proven to be a vital asset in the team's attacking lineup. His knack for scoring goals in high-pressure situations has made him a key player for New Zealand.

Currently playing for Burnley, Wood continues to impress with his goal-scoring prowess. His physical presence, aerial ability, and clinical finishing make him a nightmare for opposing defenders. Wood's success as a goal scorer sets him apart as one of the best soccer players that New Zealand has ever produced.

Winston Reid

Winston Reid, the respected captain of the New Zealand national team and a standout defender for West Ham United, has had a significant impact on the world of soccer. His leadership qualities and impressive performances on the field have earned him a well-deserved reputation as one of the best New Zealand soccer players of all time.

Here are four key reasons why Winston Reid stands out:

  1. Leadership: Reid's ability to lead both on and off the field has been crucial to his success. As the captain of the New Zealand national team, he's been a guiding force, inspiring his teammates to perform at their best.
  2. Defensive Excellence: Reid's skill as a defender is undeniable. His ability to read the game, make important tackles, and intercept passes has made him a formidable presence in the backline. His defensive contributions have been vital for both West Ham United and the New Zealand national team.
  3. International Dedication: Reid's unwavering dedication to representing New Zealand in international competitions is commendable. He proudly wears the national team jersey and consistently performs at a high level, earning the respect and admiration of fans around the world.
  4. Inspiring Role Model: Winston Reid's influence extends beyond the soccer field. He's seen as a role model for aspiring soccer players in New Zealand, inspiring them to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.

Simon Elliott

Simon Elliott, a former professional soccer player from New Zealand, had an impressive career as a midfielder for both the national team and various clubs, including the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer. Born on June 10, 1974, in Auckland, New Zealand, Elliott started his professional career at 18 with New Zealand Knights FC. He also played for clubs like Fulham in the English Football League and Columbus Crew in the United States.

Elliott was highly regarded as one of New Zealand's top midfielders due to his exceptional skills and contributions on the field. Known for his technical abilities, vision, and ability to control the game's tempo, he stood out for his passing range and accuracy, which created scoring opportunities for his teammates.

In addition to his club career, Elliott represented the New Zealand national team, earning 69 caps and scoring six goals. He played a crucial role in New Zealand's qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where they famously went undefeated in the group stage.

After retiring from professional playing, Elliott transitioned into coaching, taking on various coaching roles in the United States. His passion and expertise continue to contribute to the development of soccer in both New Zealand and the United States.

Ivan Vicelich

Continuing our exploration of notable soccer players from New Zealand, we now turn our attention to Ivan Vicelich. Known as one of the greatest New Zealand soccer players of all time, Vicelich had an impressive professional career and holds records for the most appearances for both New Zealand and Oceania.

  1. Record-breaking career: Ivan Vicelich's dedication, skill, and longevity in the sport are evident in his remarkable 88 caps for the New Zealand national team. This achievement solidifies his place as a legend in New Zealand soccer.
  2. World Cup participation: Vicelich had the honor of representing New Zealand in the FIFA World Cup. His notable contribution came in the 2010 edition, where the All Whites made an undefeated run in the group stage, leaving a lasting impression on the global stage.
  3. Successful professional career: Throughout his career, Vicelich played for clubs in New Zealand, Australia, and the Netherlands. His versatility and adaptability on the field made him a valuable asset to any team he played for, earning him recognition and respect in the football community.
  4. Impactful legacy: Ivan Vicelich's HPI (Hall of Fame Performance Indicator) of 34.28 showcases his significant impact and influence on New Zealand football. This metric considers factors such as individual achievements, team success, and international recognition, further solidifying his status as a true legend of the sport.

The contributions of Ivan Vicelich to New Zealand soccer are undeniable. His records, achievements, and impact on the sport will forever be remembered, making him a true icon in New Zealand's football history.

Shane Smeltz

Shane Smeltz, a well-known footballer from New Zealand, has had a significant impact on the country's soccer scene with his impressive goal-scoring abilities and appearances in 58 international matches. As a striker for Gold Coast United and the New Zealand national team, Smeltz has left a lasting impression on the sport.

Throughout his career, Smeltz has scored a total of 24 goals for the New Zealand national team, solidifying his position as one of the top goal-scorers in the country's history. His contributions to the team have been crucial to their success on the international stage. Additionally, Smeltz's participation in the FIFA World Cup in 2010 further elevated his status as one of New Zealand's finest football players.

To better understand Smeltz's achievements, let's take a look at the following table:

Gold Coast United82118
New Zealand National Team2458

As shown in the table, Smeltz has an impressive goal-scoring record, with 82 goals for Gold Coast United and 24 goals for the New Zealand national team. These statistics highlight his effectiveness as a striker and the impact he has had on the teams he has represented.

Michael McGlinchey

Shane Smeltz has undoubtedly made a significant impact on New Zealand soccer, but it's time to shift our attention to another outstanding player, Michael McGlinchey.

McGlinchey, a talented New Zealand soccer player, has left an indelible mark on the sport, both domestically and internationally. Here are four reasons why he deserves recognition as one of the best New Zealand football players of all time:

  1. Representing New Zealand on the global stage: McGlinchey proudly represented his country in the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Summer Olympics. His presence on the national team showcased his skill and unwavering dedication to the sport.
  2. Consistent high-level performance: McGlinchey consistently performed at a top level for New Zealand, demonstrating exceptional technical ability and tactical awareness. His contributions on the field have been instrumental in the success of the national team.
  3. Global recognition and impact: McGlinchey's performances on the international stage have gained attention and acclaim. His skill and versatility have impressed spectators around the world, solidifying his status as a respected player in the global soccer community.
  4. Participation in prestigious competitions: McGlinchey's representation of New Zealand in prestigious international competitions highlights his talent and commitment to the sport. His involvement in these events underscores his importance and contribution to New Zealand soccer.

Michael McGlinchey's achievements as a New Zealand soccer player speak volumes about his skill, dedication, and impact on the sport. He truly deserves recognition as one of the best football players to emerge from New Zealand.

Rory Fallon

Rory Fallon, a former professional football player from New Zealand, left a lasting impact on the sport. Born on March 20, 1982, Fallon began his professional career in Switzerland, playing for clubs like FC Yverdon and FC Locarno. However, it was during his time in England that Fallon gained recognition, showcasing his skills and scoring ability while playing for clubs such as Barnsley, Swansea City, and Plymouth Argyle.

Fallon's most memorable moment came in November 2009 when he scored the decisive goal in a World Cup qualifier against Bahrain. This goal secured New Zealand's place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, marking their second-ever appearance in the prestigious tournament. Fallon's contribution to New Zealand's success earned him a place in the country's footballing history.

After retiring from professional football in 2017, Fallon transitioned into coaching and media. He's taken on various coaching roles and works as a pundit, sharing his insights and expertise with fans and viewers. Fallon continues to make an impact on New Zealand football, both as a former player and now as a coach and media personality, leaving a lasting legacy in the sport.

Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith is a skilled and versatile professional football player who's made significant contributions to the sport as a defender for both Colchester United and the New Zealand national team.

Here are four key facts about Tommy Smith's career:

  1. Graduated from Ipswich Town Academy: Tommy Smith started his football journey at the Ipswich Town Academy, where he developed his skills and gained a strong foundation in the game. This early training equipped him with the necessary tools to succeed at the professional level.
  2. Versatile player: One of Smith's greatest strengths is his versatility. He can play both left back and centre back positions, adapting to the team's needs and providing a solid defensive presence wherever he's positioned on the field.
  3. Played for Ipswich Town and Colorado Rapids: In addition to his time at Colchester United, Smith has also played for Ipswich Town in the English Football League Championship. He also gained valuable experience in Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids, playing in a different football environment.
  4. Prominent member of the New Zealand national team: Smith has proudly represented New Zealand on the international stage and has become a prominent member of the national team. He's made vital contributions to the New Zealand defense, showcasing his skill, leadership, and dedication to his country.

Tommy Smith's career as a defender for both club and country has left a lasting impact on the sport in New Zealand. His versatility, technical ability, and commitment to the game make him one of the best New Zealand soccer players of all time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has New Zealand Ever Qualified for the World Cup?

New Zealand has qualified for the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1982 and 2010. Despite their limited success in the tournament, it is important to note that their lack of progress may not be solely due to a lack of talent or resources. Improving infrastructure and development programs could greatly enhance their chances of success in future World Cups. By investing in these areas, New Zealand can continue to develop their footballing talent and compete on the global stage.

Who Is the Best Man Soccer Player?

The best man soccer player is a subjective topic and varies based on personal opinions. However, there are some players who are widely regarded as the greatest of all time. These players include Pele, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo. They have achieved immense success and made a significant impact in the world of soccer. Their skills, talent, and achievements have earned them a place among the soccer legends.

Who Is the Top Scorer for the All Whites?

Wynton Rufer holds the record for the highest number of goals scored by a player for the All Whites, with an impressive tally of 224 goals. His contributions have been instrumental in the team's success. The New Zealand national team has recently showcased remarkable performances, making them a force to be reckoned with.

How Many New Zealanders Have Played in the Epl?

A total of 30 New Zealanders have played in the English Premier League (EPL), making a significant impact. They have faced challenges, but their contribution cannot be overlooked. When compared to players from other countries, New Zealanders have left their mark in the league.


The best soccer players from New Zealand are Wynton Rufer, Chris Wood, and Winston Reid. These players have made significant contributions to the sport, both at the club and national level.

They haven't only achieved success but have also left a lasting impact on New Zealand soccer. Their skills, dedication, and achievements have helped elevate the profile of New Zealand soccer on the international stage.

Their legacies will continue to inspire future generations of players in the country.

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