Ricki Herbert and his World Cup All Whites soccer team scored a memorable hat-trick at the Halberg Awards announced in Auckland tonight.
Herbert was named coach of the year, while the All Whites picked up sports team of the year, going on to capture of overall Halberg Award.
It was the first time in the history of the awards, dating back to 1949 when Bert Sutcliffe won the inaugural sportsman of the year title, that soccer has claimed the Halberg Award, widely regarded as New Zealand's most sought after sporting prize.
It was also the first time since the triumph by the Silver Ferns in 2003 that an individual did not hold aloft the statuesque silver Halberg Award at the end of the night. On that occasion, the netballers had beaten arch rivals Australia in the netball world championship final.
To win the Halberg Award, the All Whites first headed off fellow team finalists - the All Blacks, the Kiwis, the Silver Ferns and the rowing pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond.
They then took the overall award ahead of sportsman of the year, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, and sportswoman of the year, shot putter Valerie Adams.
Three-time Halberg Award winner Rob Waddell and special guest Corporal Willie Apiata VC announced the All Whites as the big winners, and they were presented with the Halberg Award by John Adshead and Steve Sumner, coach and captain of the 1982 All Whites who reached the World Cup finals in Spain. They also received a personal tribute message from Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
The All Whites, who joined 31 other nations at the 2010 World Cup tournament following a 1-0 win over Bahrain late in 2009, defied all predictions and made a mockery of their 74th-placed world ranking in South Africa.
Following epic draws against Slovakia, fourth-ranked Italy and Uruguay, they ended the tournament as the only unbeaten team and ranked ahead of four-time World Cup winners Italy and 1998 champions France.
Herbert, who also steered Phoenix to the A-League finals last year, headed off All Blacks coach Graham Henry, Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney and New Zealand sevens coaching guru Gordon Tietjens to win the coach of the year category.
For All Black captain McCaw, twice a previous finalist, it was third time lucky as he won the sportsman of the year category ahead of All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen, Kiwis game breaker and captain Benji Marshall and X Games world champion Jossi Wells.
McCaw is only the third rugby player in the past 20 years, and the first since Jeff Wilson in 1997, to win sportsman of the year.
In the race for sportswoman of the year honours, Adams won the title for a fifth year from fellow Commonwealth Games competitors Nikki Hamblin (athletics), Alison Shanks (cycling), Joelle King (squash) and Casey Williams (netball).
The quartet won seven medals between them - three gold, three silver and a bronze.
The emerging talent award needed a second ballot before Commonwealth Games swimming silver medallist Gareth Kean edged out world under-20 shot put champion Jacko Gill for a $15,000 scholarship. The other finalists were Julia Edward (rowing) and Tyler Bleyendaal (rugby).
Two former New Zealand sporting identities champions were inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame at the awards dinner.
Michael Jones, one of the heroes of the 1987 World Cup winning All Black team, and Bill Baillie, among the country's most versatile athletes across three decades, were presented with their awards by national sporting icons Sir Murray Halberg and Sir Brian Lochore.
Two other special awards were also made: Auckland's Eric Kolhase, a hugely popular rugby and softball player and coach for more than 50 years, was presented with a lifetime achievement award.
Former All Blacks flanker and captain and long-serving New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs received the leadership award.
Voting for the 2010 Halberg Awards was carried out by an academy of 28 sporting journalists, coaches and former sporting greats.
Winners and finalists from the Halberg Awards:
Sportsman of the year: Richie McCaw (rugby). Finalists: Ryan Nelsen (soccer), Benji Marshall (league), Jossi Wells (X Games).
Sportswoman of the year: Valerie Adams (athletics). Finalists: Joelle King (squash), Casey Williams (netball), Nikki Hamblin (athletics).
Team of the year: World Cup All Whites (soccer).
Finalists: Kiwis (rugby league), All Blacks (rugby), Silver Ferns (netball), Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (rowing).
Coach of the year: Ricki Herbert (soccer).
Finalists: Stephen Kearney (rugby league), Graham Henry (rugby), Gordon Tietjens (rugby).
Emerging talent award: Gareth Kean (swimming).
Finalists: Julia Edward (rowing), Jacko Gill (athletics), Tyler Bleyendaal (rugby).
Halberg Award: World Cup All Whites.