Former All Whites coach Anthony Hudson was close to resigning a year before the World Cup playoff with Peru after a massive falling out with then-New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin.
The pair endured a rocky relationship during the second half of Hudson's tenure which culminated in a settlement being thrashed out between the duo.
The Herald on Sunday understands Martin was forced to attend a mediation session with Hudson in October 2017 to iron out substantial differences between them.
For a period following that session, communication between the two most important people in New Zealand Football was extremely limited and sometimes conducted through a third party. It's believed Hudson also kept Martin at arm's length from the team.
While there was often debate over operational matters, particularly around resources devoted to the All Whites, the catalyst for the unravelling of their relationship involved former England caretaker manager Peter Taylor, the man who famously gave David Beckham his first match as England captain.
During the All Whites' tour to the United States in October 2016, Martin asked Taylor, who had been appointed as an assistant to Hudson a month earlier, if he would be interested in the top job.
Taylor played for England in the 1970s and has managed Leicester, Hull, Brighton and Crystal Palace over a long career. He had previously worked with Hudson in Bahrain.
In an exclusive interview with the Herald on Sunday, Taylor admitted he was surprised to receive Martin's enquiry, given he had never met the chief executive before.
"It was the first night I met the CEO," recalled Taylor, now managing National League club Dagenham and Redbridge. "We were in America and it was the first time I met up with the team. At that particular time, there was some paper talk of Anthony going to Derby County. The CEO said to me if Anthony goes, at least we have someone like you around. He intimated that I could help someone like Darren [Bazeley] or a younger member of staff."
Taylor immediately informed Hudson about Martin's comments.
"I think Anthony was a little [upset]," said Taylor. "The CEO didn't know me, and the minute he said it to me, I told Anthony straight away. I was never going to hide anything from him because we are close."
Taylor said he would never have considered coaching the All Whites.
"I just told him [Hudson] what was said to me, that was it," said Taylor. "It was never something that was in my head ... that never would have happened. We go back a nice distance and I think we trust each other, which is important."
While Taylor concedes Martin may have been thinking of him as a back-up should Hudson have left, he knows the head coach saw it differently.
"I think Anthony was disappointed with it because the CEO wouldn't have known me, so to say it like that, not knowing me, I suppose Anthony was probably more surprised," said Taylor. "He was probably pretty disappointed."
Less than two weeks after the team returned from that tour, Hudson was, according to one former NZF staff member "at the end of his tether" and had lost all trust in Martin.
It's believed he was hours away from resigning, with a list of grievances, before an independent mediator was called in. Details around the meeting are not known but it is understood that Hudson negotiated changes around the way the All Whites operation would be run, and the chief executive was kept at a distance from most team-related situations from then on.
"Those are historical relationships," said NZF chairman Deryck Shaw when approached by the Herald on Sunday. "It's a matter between a former CEO and a former All Whites coach. If you wanted to explore that, you need to speak to those two.
"The matters that have been raised will more than likely be considered through the review process, and the reviewer will be making determinations around them. Because of that review, it's not appropriate to comment any further.
"All I can say is that our board is committed to following up on any recommendations that come out of the review process. If there are things we need to change in football, we will be looking at it."
These new revelations add to an increasing list of allegations against Martin. A large number of employees left NZF during his tenure and it's understood several aired grievances and complaints as part of their exit process. Some negotiated a financial settlement and were required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
The environment in the NZF offices at Albany during Martin's tenure has been described as a toxic culture.
There was no human resources department, or even a full-time HR employee, and former employees have told the Herald on Sunday they had little confidence in the HR process, feeling they were essentially forced to complain to the chief executive about the chief executive. Several are believed to have approached NZF board members with concerns about Martin and his conduct.
Martin resigned from his post last month in the midst of the fallout around Andreas Heraf and the Football Ferns. NZF was forced to issue a public apology to former Ferns manager Claire Hamilton after Martin lied publicly about her conduct. But Martin received a significant financial settlement as part of his exit plan, believed to be tens of thousands of dollars.
Hudson was picked by Martin to replace Ricki Herbert in late 2014 but there was often friction in the relationship. Martin was blindsided by Hudson's comments in December 2015, when he publicly complained about the lack of opportunities for the All Whites and the commitment of local players.
Hudson grew frustrated by the perceived lack of investment and forward planning for the team, culminating in the difficult travel arrangement for the second leg of the Peru playoff in Lima, which gave the South Americans a significant advantage.
Neither Hudson nor Martin were available for comment.