Happy returns for New Zealand's Herbert

RUSTENBURG - Ricki Herbert fondly remembers the last time his country reached the World Cup finals despite the drubbings New Zealand received in 1982.

Herbert returns as coach of the All Whites in South Africa but almost three decades ago he was a wide-eyed 21-year old defender and part of his country's first ever appearance at the sport's biggest tournament.

"It's been a long time hasn't it? 28 years for a chance to try and change something," he told reporters on Monday. "Look, it's good to be back. It's quite a distant memory but a very fond memory."

Herbert said the highlight of that World Cup was a 4-0 defeat against tournament favourites Brazil. At the end of the game he got to exchange shirts with one of Brazil's best players, Socrates.

"Yeah, I've got his shirt. Hopefully, he's still got mine," Herbert said.

New Zealand face Slovakia in their 2010 opener on Tuesday.

Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook