His finest hour was guiding the All Whites to the 1982 World Cup but there've been many other victories too

John Adshead doesn't quite have the stature of Sir Edmund Hillary, nor was he quite as good at lugging around 20kg at high altitude, but he considers himself something of a Hillary of New Zealand soccer.

Adshead, who has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday Honours, famously scaled the heights of world soccer by guiding the All Whites to the 1982 World Cup.

He described it at the time as the impossible dream, and it was one that was achieved after a monumental qualifying campaign. At the time New Zealand travelled further (88,000km), played more games (15), scored more goals (44) and took the longest time of all nations before them to qualify for the finals.

It mattered little the All Whites were beaten by a combined score of 12-2 by Scotland (5-2), Soviet Union (3-0) and Brazil (4-0) in their pool games in Spain because getting there was considered winning their World Cup final.


It's a time Adshead, 71, looks back on with immense pride and he still has people who stop him in the street and want to share a memory of that 1982 campaign with him.

"You have climbed to the mountaintop but I have done a lot of smaller peaks as well and that's always been challenging and interesting to me."

Adshead also ran the New Zealand end of Bob Geldof's international sports aid Run For Life, was drafted into New Zealand's first challenge for the America's Cup as their personnel manager, managed tours by the Soviet basketball and gymnastics teams, was a renowned guest speaker for close to 30 years, is a justice of the peace and served as national ambassador for Macular Degeneration New Zealand since 2009.

But it's his work in soccer that the English-born Adshead is most famous for. On top of being All Whites coach, he also managed the New Zealand team at the 1995 Under-17 World Cup in Egypt, from 2000-2004 coached the Oman National Junior and Youth Teams and in 2005 coached the ill-fated New Zealand Knights in the Australian A-League.

"I worked in the game for 38 years but it was still a shock, a nice shock," Adshead said of his honour.

Adshead is one of seven individuals honoured for their work in sport, headed by Sir Gordon Tietjens who has been made a Knights Companion.

Former All Blacks wing Bryan Williams has been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby. Beegee, as he was famously known, played 113 times for the All Blacks between 1970 and 1978, including in 38 tests, but has also had a long association with the game in New Zealand and Samoa as a coach and administrator.

Williams coached Samoa to victory over Graham Henry's Wales at the 1999 World Cup and has served as NZRU president since 2011.

Also made an Officer of the Order of Merit are Ross Bragg (swimming) and Adrienne Greenwood (sailing), Pat Barwick (hockey) and Corinne Pritchard (hockey) have been made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.