By Steven Holloway, Kris Shannon and Daniel Richardson
On November 14, 2009, the All Whites booked their spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Bahrain to make the tournament for the second time.
In 2013, the Herald talked to some of the key people who helped make history on that day, and others who watched from close by, to put into their words what it meant to reach the biggest sporting tournament in the world with a victory on one night in November.
Part I - Enemy soil
After winning the 2008 Oceania Nations Cup, the All Whites advanced to a home-and-away playoff against the fifth-placed team from Asia. At stake, a spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Bahrain emerged as Asia's representative after beating Saudi Arabia in a playoff. The All Whites hadn't qualified for a World Cup since 1982 while Bahrain were aiming to make their first trip to the tournament. On June 2, 2009 the draw was made with Bahrain named as the hosts of the first leg and New Zealand to host the second leg. The opening game was played in Manama on October 11, 2009.
WHEN THE ALL WHITES HEARD THEY WOULD FACE BAHRAIN
Ricki Herbert (All Whites coach) - We'd sent two people to the home-and-away fixtures between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, so we'd had a pretty good handle on what we were going to face and what we were going to do. I think that proved to be quite invaluable because, off the back of that, I changed my mind of how we were going to play, actually - hence the reason we went to a back three.
Fred de Jong (TV commentator/NZ Football high performance manager) - When I first heard that I thought we had a chance. Bahrain are obviously not one of the big nations in the Asian region and I thought, 'ohh, that's not a bad draw for us'. I was pretty optimistic at that point.
Ben Sigmund (All Whites defender) - If I think back I didn't really care who it was. Tim Brown and I sort of set out and said, 'we are going to make the World Cup' and that was just pretty much how we set it. You could have thrown anyone at us for any of those qualifiers and we would have gone, `just bring it on'. I think that belief was there from the word go. I look back and go, `s***, that was pretty powerful when you think about it like that'.
Rory Fallon (All Whites striker) - My first thoughts were about trying to get into the team, because I wasn't even on the scene, I wasn't eligible to play. Then the change of rules got me back into it and, as soon as I knew I was going to be part of the squad, I just had a feeling we would be going to the World Cup.
THE TRIP TO BAHRAIN, PRE-MATCH BUILD-UP
Herbert - We did all our preparations in Dubai. We spent five days in Dubai and then flew into Bahrain on the Tuesday night and played the next night. We wanted to limit the exposure, for want of a better word, to a country where you never know what you might or might not get.
Sigmund The main thing that stands out for me is that it was very hot. I remember turning up to the stadium and there was security with machine guns and a massive crowd of red and it was like we were going to have to go to war here. It was like, 'you're going to have to pretty much die out there on the field because it's just going to be chaos'.
Herbert - I think players really respond to a full stadium, passionate home fans. It's great to be a part of that. It's not something the team ever fears, so it was pretty busy and there was quite a strong representation of New Zealand people down in one corner - probably a couple of thousand people - so that side of things was pretty positive.
de Jong - I was commentating on the first leg from a studio in Auckland. Throughout that game I thought we were very, very, very lucky, especially when the guy (Bahrain striker Salman Isa) went round [Mark] Paston then hit the post. I was thinking, 'man we are hanging on for dear life here'.
Mark Paston (All Whites goalkeeper) - I remember he'd got round me. He could have just rolled it into the net quite easily. He could have passed it across [to an open Jaycee John] but I remember he slightly sliced it onto the post, which was quite nice to see from our perspective ... I remember [Isa] wasn't very happy, looking over at him at the time he did it.
Sigmund - I look back and think, even though they had chances to score, there was some amazing stuff that was going on with Pasty saving it. There were some great blocks from me and Ryan [Nelsen] and there was just all sorts going on that you look back on and go, 's***, we won it so many times all over the place because there was so many good things happening'.
THE RESULT AND THE HOPE THAT CAME WITH IT
Fallon - If we're being honest, we didn't really deserve to draw that game. They missed so many chances, they missed an open goal, they hit the post. It was roasting hot, it was packed and I just thought this was too good to be true. We were buzzing about the 0-0 but knew there was a lot more work to be done.
After the game we weren't celebrating that much. Everyone was buzzing and we knew we had done well but there were no celebrations because the job wasn't fully done. It was a tired changing room.
Andrew Gourdie (3News football reporter) - I think the fact that I was the TV3 football reporter and I was on a nine-week holiday around Europe at the time when we were playing the first leg of a World Cup qualifier, I think that actually kind of sums up a few things. Initially, I don't think anyone actually expected us to beat Bahrain so it wasn't really on the media horizon.
Sigmund - I look back and Ryan said before the game in Bahrain, 'look, if we can do well, when we bring it home it'll make the crowd come, it'll get everyone in behind us, it'll just improve so many things'. Ryan always talks about the 12th man when we won that game [in Wellington] and the 12th man was the fans and the crowd and the energy they brought for us and he was so right. Getting that 0-0 result and obviously what happened in Wellington was awesome.''
Following the 0-0 draw in Manama, the All Whites had to wait more than a month for the home leg. The squad played for their club sides during the time between fixtures before regrouping six days beforehand. During that time, tickets to Wellington's Westpac Stadium sold out ensuring 36,500 fans, mostly in white, would deck out the arena. Instead of flying straight to New Zealand, the Bahrain squad based themselves in Sydney, which was predictably a much warmer climate than Wellington and in a different timezone. They left it until the Thursday before the game to arrive into a cold and blustery Wellington.
THE WEEKS OF HYPE LEADING UP TO THE BIG ONE
Fallon - I was back in Plymouth trying to stay in the team and nick goals. That was in the forefront of my mind but also I had my eye on that game. I tried to stay away from trouble a little. Sometimes you can get some naughty tackles, especially on someone who is potentially going to a World Cup. It was going to be one of the biggest games of my career so I knew I had to look after myself.
Sigmund - It's like you're living two separate lives. You've got your club, and that's very important because they pay your wages, and then you've got your New Zealand stuff and you're potentially going to a World Cup. But you just park it and go, 'right, we've done well in this game' and you try to focus on one game at a time and that's how we got through because, if you look too far ahead, it plays mind games.
de Jong - It was something that just built and built. A lot of it was around ticket sales. The game got sold out, which was really amazing for a football game in New Zealand. I was on the [New Zealand Football] board at that stage but was also doing the commentary.
Gourdie - I spent an entire week down in Wellington in the build-up, which was amazing in itself because in the space of a month we've gone from a game and a team not really being on the radar to an entire week when the All Whites and the World Cup qualifier dominated. It led stories on the sports news and everyone was into it. We covered everything. I remember speaking to Shane Smeltz, I think, who was one of the first players to arrive in Wellington for the match from overseas and we did a live interview with him as part of our lead sports story. I think it was on the Monday night.''
Fallon - The night before the game we had a team talk where we all got in a circle and would just start chatting. Ryan would start and then anyone else who wanted to chip in would say something. It helped get us in the right state of mind. Ryan Nelsen was a great captain and everyone loved him, but we also had a number of other experienced senior players like Killy (Chris Killen) and Simon Elliot, who chipped in with a lot of good things.
People would bring up personal stuff in their lives. They would say, 'boys, I really need this', whether it be for the money or whatever. Everyone was bringing up personal things they wanted from this game, to change their lives or careers. It was quite an inspirational thing with the boys being so honest with each other.
THE DAY BEFORE - THE BUZZ AROUND WELLINGTON
Fallon - We were cocooned away from it all, especially me. I didn't go into town. I don'tthink any of us went into town. We just stayed away from it. A lot of the time I would get up in the morning and just isolate myself. I was praying a lot. I stayed away from all the media coverage. I put enough pressure on myself, nevermind having the whole of New Zealand putting pressure on us.
de Jong - I went for a wander around the streets and there were people everywhere. Most of them were dressed in white. It was a nice day. I think I went out for a coffee in the morning and it was one of those times when you get that expectation of something building. There was this nervous energy around the city, which was really nice because it was so cutthroat.
Sigmund - I remember going out for a walk on game-day in the morning and I ended up having to come home because there were people everywhere and everyone wanted to chat to you. Media were also floating around. James McOnie [from the Crowd Goes Wild] was chasing me around. I remember having to do some video skit. He was videoing me in this playground playing on swings and going down slides and it was just a random day, but it was a cool day.
GAME-DAY - HOW IT FELT WARMING UP IN THAT ATMOSPHERE, THE TEAM TALK
Fallon - When we left for the stadium, there was a bit of a rush. There were people out the front of our hotel yelling and screaming and even when we got into the stadium there were people lining up and screaming at us. Straight away we knew this was going to be one of the biggest games in 28 years of New Zealand football.
de Jong - We did a piece by the tunnel where we had to come out of the commentary area and walk out through the crowd onto the field and walk around the field and then do a live cross, and as we walked around the difference with this crowd was that everyone was dressed up. There were people in boiler suits and white paraphernalia everywhere. White was the new black. That made it different. It made it special.
Everyone was really getting into it and it was a different sort of crowd in New Zealand. Normally we're pretty quiet but this one was pretty raucous. There was just noise and people laughing and screaming and singing, 30 minutes before anything was even happening.
Andrew Gourdie - I remember the story we did the night of the game about the colour of the build-up and the hype and there was no shortage of material. We had people singing songs, you know, 'don't go out in Bahrain' to the tune of Dragon's Rain, and 'nothing rhymes with Ivan Vicelich'. I don't think I've heard anyone sing that song before but it was magic, really, just the way people got on board. New Zealanders are great bandwagon jumpers, but I don't think I've ever seen New Zealanders jump on a bandwagon quite like that.
Jason Pine (RadioSport commentator) - I remember looking out at this empty stadium and thinking, 'this is going to be pretty special in a few hours' and as it built towards kick-off. Wellingtonians are notoriously late arrivers to things - even the Phoenix crowds don't turn up until about five minutes before kick-off - but at about quarter-past seven, with about 45 minutes still to go, the place would have been 80 per cent full. At that stage it had started to fill up. I think they wanted to soak up the atmosphere before kick-off.
Fallon - Everyone knew how big this game was. In my mind I was determined for us not to be nearly men, getting close then falling at the last hurdle. I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't win that game, so there was a lot of pressure. It was quite tense before we went out to warm up because it was really packed by that time.
I remember seeing the '82 World Cup team walking around the pitch and I saw my dad there. For me, that's always been a shadow in my family. I grew up with the '82 fever and 28 years after they went to the World Cup they were all still revered as idols to the fans and I thought, 'man, we just have to get to this World Cup'. I was proud to see my dad as well. When I saw him, I was just really thankful. That World Cup really made my dad. It helped the family and I was just thankful that he got the opportunity. Now I had it.
Chris Wood (All Whites striker) - Ryan was a big influence on game day and he commanded the dressing room really well. He knew how to get some players revved up and how to relax others. He knew the individuals really well. We also had Rory's music on in the dressing room, and his choice of playlist isn't always the best, but he did a good job on the day of getting our team's songs in.
Ryan Nelsen (All Whites defender/captain) - I can't really remember what I said. A lot of that stuff I do is the feeling of what I think the guys need to hear at the time. It's not what they want to hear, it's what they need to hear. A lot of it is getting a feeling. If I feel there are any insecurities or a vibe, I try to address it and smash it out of the ballpark. I will lie like hell and tell all sorts of bullshit to make a person feel like they can go out and conquer the world. Sometimes it's just getting a feel for what I think people want to hear. I used to put myself down a lot and make up stories that the opposition were useless and I would rather have you guys on the team.
Herbert - We went into a standard sort of huddle and I think there was just really short, sharp stuff - this is a reflection on where you're at, this is what sits in front of you for 90 minutes of your life. The defining factor is sitting here right in front of you guys and you can actually change a nation tonight and I kind of sensed through the day there was just a strong feeling within the group.
Paston - There wasn't a lot to be said. I think we had a couple of meetings the day before. By then everybody knew what it was about. It was just going out and doing your job and, if you did everything you could do and the result didn't turn out, so be it. That's the way it was approached.
Nelsen - In the end, what you do is put yourself in a position to try to win a football game and, generally, the physical and tactical stuff is taken care of. Really, it's just the mental side. You just try to say the right things to push them in the right direction. Whether that works or not is up to the fate of the gods. I think the New Zealand guys are the easiest to work with because most New Zealand people have everything - they are hard-working and honest - but there's sometimes a bit of self-doubt because they haven't had international exposure that other people have. They just don't know and that can be insecurity.
Sigmund - I remember being out in the tunnel in Wellington just lining up before going out and it was a freezing day in Wellington - that's what we wanted - and they were all in gloves, beanies, all sorts of stuff. And Rory Fallon, big Rory Fallon, I love him to bits, he was just like, 'these guys aren't up for it, these guys, they're pussies'. He was really in their faces just saying, 'f***, if you're going to come here, you're going to have to really have a good crack at us'. That was powerful for me and everyone felt that and it was a good bit of energy.
Pine - Once eight o'clock rolled around, the place was absolutely full to the brim and the teams came out with the Fifa flags and then the anthems were played. It was a pretty special place to be. It was an amazing sight seeing everybody in white.
Michael Brown (Former Herald football writer) - It was the most amazing sporting experience I've had in New Zealand. It was an incredible night and there was so much emotion. It really crystalised for me just before kick-off, when the Bahrain media contingent walked into the press box in their Bahrain-issued tracksuits. And they burst into song when the national anthem started - it was a really hearty rendition, they were really emotional about it. It suddenly became an us-against-them mentality. I'm quite dispassionate when I'm working and watching sport but, as soon as that happened, it was like, 'if that's the way it's going to be, that's the way it's going to be'.
Herbert - When I saw the players walking onto the pitch, I thought, 'we are going to be hard to beat, we are absolutely going to be hard to beat'.
The All Whites began nervously in front of the big crowd as Bahrain attacked from the outset but they soon settled into the match and carved out a handful of good chances. Chris Killen rattled the crossbar with a brilliant left-footed volley that had the goalkeeper beaten, Leo Bertos went agonisingly close with a curling free-kick from just outside the box and Rory Fallon had a close-range header brilliantly saved by Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Mohamed Jaffar. It was a forerunner of what was to come. Just before halftime, Ben Sigmund made a run down the right-hand side before attempting a cross, which was headed clear for a corner. Leo Bertos lined up the corner with six white shirts to aim at. Rory Fallon jumped clear to head the All Whites into a 1-0 lead.
Fallon - I knew there would be only one or two chances in the game because they were shut up quite tightly. And I recall having an early chance before the goal - a half-chance that I had to stretch for - and I thought, 'surely that's not my chance'. I clearly remember praying to God, saying, 'God give me one more chance and I'll finish it. Give me one more opportunity'. Then five minutes later we got the corner.
Sigmund - [Sigmund goes up to head the ball but it goes over his head for Fallon to connect with] I've probably spoken about it before. I have nightmares about it because I actually think sometimes, 'imagine if I went up' - because I didn't actually know Rory was behind me coming in so I potentially could have gone up and flicked it or missed it. But I didn't, and he came over and just banged it home.
Fallon - It was just euphoria. When you score a goal, it's great and there are not many things that come close to scoring an important goal. I've scored loads of important goals, but that one was just something out of this world that I will never forget.
Sigmund - I still remember it. I heard the thud of the ball hitting his head and then I tried to chase him - and he's a slow bastard - but he outsprinted me because he was so happy.
Fallon - We just needed that one goal. That's all we needed and the whole place erupted. It was pandemonium and the whole place went wild. When I finished celebrating, in my mind I was just like, 'woah, this is really happening'.
Nelsen - I can remember getting pulled [by a defender]. I was about to run in and the guy who was marking me just grabbed my shirt. I kind of turned to him to push him out of the way. I was so mad. I turned back and Rory had scored. I ended up looking at the guy and saying a nice pleasantry to him as I ran off.
Gourdie - Personally, I've never heard a roar like that at a sporting event in New Zealand and I would be surprised if I ever will again. I think there was just this feeling of, `dare to believe or dream' that fell over the crowd.
de Jong - We were jumping up and down in the commentary area. The commentary was weird because you are watching the game but you're also working and trying to convey what was going on.
Fallon - It was a long time in the making. People used to think I was mad when my dad took me training before school every day, but all those years of hard work paid off with that goal. It was a massive relief, because I didn't want to waste all those years of training, all that hard work with nothing to show for it. During my club career I hadn't won anything, never achieved that mark I wanted, but this is something I will always remember.
Nelsen - I remember going, 'it's a goal' and then, 'right, this is going to be the longest 50 minutes of my life but it's time to really get going now'.
Five minutes into the second half, Bahrain were awarded a penalty after All Whites defender Tony Lochhead brought down Abdulla Omar in the box. With a goal, Bahrain would have been in the box seat due to the away goals rule. Sayed Adnan stepped up to take the crucial attempt for Bahrain.
Fallon - In the changing rooms, a lot of the senior players were saying, 'boys, the first 10 or 20 minutes of this half are going to make or break this game. So then the first five minutes in the penalty happened, and I just thought, 'no way, this can't be true'.
Tony Lochhead (As told to the Bay of Plenty Times) - I thought I had cost us a trip to the World Cup. I thought I'd done enough to get there but [Omar] just managed to get in front of me. I didn't really touch him that much, but he went down pretty easily and the ref pointed to the spot.
Pine - What I remember most when the penalty was awarded was the Bahrain players celebrating and kissing the ground and hugging as if they'd won the game. They'd only won a penalty and they hadn't scored it yet and they were all just very excited about the fact they'd got this penalty.
Fallon - I think everyone in the team's heart dropped. I don't usually pray for people to miss, but at that time I was on the halfway line praying for that guy to miss. This was my dream since childhood and I just said, 'God, please stop that goal'. I think everyone in that stadium was praying... well at least everyone was wishing that ball out of that goal.
Sigmund - There were all sorts of rumours that people had been watching them take penalties so Ricki [Herbert] was trying to get some information across to them that they were going to go this way but Pasty didn't really listen to any of it and he just kind of did his own thing.
I always remember Leo Bertos was abusing Tony Lochhead for giving this penalty away and usually it's me abusing someone and I was like, 'Leo, man'. I had so much belief that, if they scored, we were going to go down there and score again. I was like, 'just bring it on, whatever you throw at us, we are going to beat you'. Everyone had that attitude and that's what got us over the line.
Pine - Afterwards I found out the New Zealand coaching staff were trying to get a message out to Mark Paston to let him know that [Mohamed] Adnan, the guy who was taking the penalty, which way he normally went with his penalties. They somehow managed to find out which way some of the Bahrain players went with their penalties because they might have had to face a penalty shootout later on. But it was so loud and then message got mixed up and Mark Paston didn't actually receive the message at all. If he had, he probably would have ignored it, knowing him.
Herbert - There were lots of signals and, whether Mark caught a glimpse of it or not, I'm not 100 per cent sure.
Paston - I wasn't paying any attention to that. I understand they were trying to do that but I was in my little world so it was a good job I went that way. I guessed. I'd like to say I did all that but, nah, I guessed. There was no science to it.
Herbert - At the end of the day, he got it spot on. But that was a replication of what he'd been doing. He'd had an incredible World Cup build-up. We wouldn't be talking about this if it wasn't for him, really.
Lochhead - It was such a nerve-racking moment but Pasty has come up with an unbelievable save and he's saved my skin, big time. It wasn't a good feeling, but when he saved it I was celebrating as if I had scored myself.
de Jong - We were more excited when Paston saved the penalty. If they had scored, we would have had to score again and that was always going to be difficult. That save got the whole stadium so behind the All Whites. From that point it was like a waterfall heading in one direction. I think that was the key moment, even more so than the goal.
Gourdie - When Paston saved that penalty, it was a different sort of feeling I think that came over everyone. It's like, `I think we are going to do this, it's almost written that this is going to happen'. Fallon's goal gave the crowd hope, Paston's save gave them belief. He wrote himself into history with that. No matter what else he does in his career - he's done a bit and it's over now - but he'll be remembered for that save forever.
Pine - I think that moment was the loudest noise I have ever heard at Westpac Stadium; louder than the goal, I reckon. It was just so unexpected. You don't really expect the goalkeeper to make a save off a penalty but the fact he did and there was just this explosion of relief and joy and almost belief that it was going to be New Zealand's night.
Paston - I look back at it now and I didn't actually react that much and I think it was the same as when we scored our goal. It was something that happened in the game. There were still 40-odd minutes to go so it was, 'get on with the game and try not concede a goal'. So it was just get on with things, actually.
The nerves were palpable as Bahrain attacked in waves. Nelsen was immense as he snuffed out any chance while the rest, led by the terrier-like Tim Brown, ran themselves into the ground. Shane Smeltz narrowly missed scoring a valuable second which would have given his side breathing space and Fallon was a constant menace. But the final 20 minutes were largely about protecting their lead, not conceding and taking their place at the World Cup. Finally Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda called time. Fulltime. The All Whites were going to South Africa.
Paston - They pumped a ball into the box, they headed it and I caught it and I've run out and the referee's walked over to me and started saying, `give me the ball'. It was the time in the game when I didn't want to give anyone the ball, it was like gold at that moment to have in my hands, so I was a little reluctant to give it to him. Then I sort of realised what he was doing so I obviously gave it to him and he blew his whistle. It was a moment, which was quite nice.
Nelsen - I can remember running with Ivan when they blew the whistle and his back leg tripped my leg and I remember falling on my face. You go into such an exhilaration. You are screaming and yelling and screaming gibberish. It's pure ecstasy, relief, delight. It's indescribable.
Fallon - I fell on my knees and thanked God for getting me to a World Cup. That's the first thing I did. Then I remember David Mulligan coming over. Mully used to train with me in the mornings at MAGS and he jumped on me. We just looked at each other and we were buzzing. We were just screaming in each other's faces, going, 'come onnnn'. Then we ran over to the lads.
Paston - It was unbelievable. I don't think anything else could describe it and it was almost a blur with so much going on and it was just an incredible night, really.
Herbert - I couldn't really tell you what went through my head. It was just so many things but I think relief. That would be the first thing.
Sigmund - I just looked for anyone to hug, to be honest. I think everyone was just so exhausted and I think just the emotion of letting that all out to say it's all over and you've qualified for the World Cup, it was like the best moment of your life, especially in your professional time.
de Jong - While Andrew (Dewhurst) was wrapping it all up, I was jumping around. I couldn't believe it. Obviously we hadn't been there for a while and it was just mayhem. Mayhem around the stadium, mayhem in the commentary area. Harry (Ngata) was on the field swearing in the mic and Ricki was swearing and, through that period, you're working and you have to get comments and talk and try to be professional, but inside it was phenomenal. I couldn't stop smiling for three days.
Gourdie - I managed to speak to Ivan Vicelich. He was the first interview I got on the field and it was cool speaking to Ivan, I've got to say, because he was the first person who came to me. It wasn't until afterwards that I thought, 'man, Ivan's a guy who has been incredible for that All Whites unit'. He came out of retirement, that's what people forget. He retired and came out of retirement for the Confederations Cup [in 2009] and then he was on the field to help the team get to a World Cup. What's actually happened to that guy is crazy and you know all that meant a lot to him; not necessarily what he had just achieved but what he had helped the team just achieve, because he's the ultimate team guy.
The next guy who came to me was Fallon. I couldn't have hoped for better. That interview was memorable because I got in one question and he answered it and then the second question I cut short because, from memory, it was Chris Wood and Chris Killen and maybe Andy Barron who got him and I in a Powerade bath mid-question. I left Westpac Stadium absolutely soaked from head to toe that night and that's probably my enduring memory of the night, being soaked in Gatorade when I still probably had a full night of work ahead of me.
Fallon - After the game we did a lap of honour, then Killy and Woodsy got the bucket of Powerade and dumped it on me to celebrate while I was getting interviewed. Then we went into the changing rooms and the music was pumping. I remember the song that was being played, Black Eyed Peas' I Got A Feeling, and that was constantly on repeat. As soon as I got in there it really started going off. We got the champagne out, we were jumping around hugging each other and kissing each other - not in a gay way - in a manly way. Just a euphoric feeling of, 'we've done it'.
THE NIGHT OUT AFTERWARDS
Fallon - Then we got on the bus. The bus was the craziest ride I have ever taken in my life. The ride from the stadium to the hotel should take us only 10 minutes. It took us over 30. Everyone was stopping the bus. There were hundreds of people on the street stopping the bus at every opportunity. People were streaming out of the bars jumping in front of the bus, banging on the windows. There was one lad who must have been running for at least 20 minutes alongside the bus and everyone was just watching him. Either he was a fit boy or extremely drunk.
The realisation, after all the euphoria had stopped, of what I had done started to sink in. The game was being replayed over and over on the TV and what I had achieved was starting to sink in.
As soon as we got changed, we all met up at a private bar and that's where I met up with my mum and dad. When I got to the bar my dad was there and he was absolutely steaming. He was outside, drinking whisky out of the glass with a massive cigar celebrating. And the first thing I remember was walking into the bar and seeing him. He was so drunk I don't think he even recognised me until I was like, 'Dad, hey it's me'. But that moment when I saw him and we first hugged is something that will be with me 'til the day I die. We both realised what that meant.
Sigmund - My grandad was about 84 at the time .He was out 'til five in the morning with us and my old man lasted the whole night.
Fallon - My dad led the team in '82. Then another Fallon - the young lad that he's coached from a young age - every day before school, training on rugby pitches, all the adversity, it all amalgamated into that one big hug. We realised what we had achieved. He just kept saying, 'the f***ing 90 million dollar header' followed by, 'boom, back of the net'. He had me in stitches because he just kept on saying that the whole night. I'll never forget that - him, his cigar and his whiskey saying, 'boom, back of the net', in his Yorkshire accent.
Everyone was having a great time and drinking and stuff like that but I recall not drinking. We all celebrated with a glass of champagne together, but that was me done. I hit a massive brick wall. I was just so tired. But it was one of the best night's sleep I ever had in my life.
de Jong - It was 4am in the morning and I was walking to McDonald's, and I saw a couple of board members walking the other way. It was a good night.
Herbert - We were out and it was quite a late night, actually. I think I can remember walking home with the manager at about seven in the morning and it's one of those night where you kind of have a few drinks but you're talking and everyone's really excited and before you know it it's that late and you're walking home. I was good as gold. I was just sober as. In the reception at the hotel the game was coming back on, they were showing a replay of it so we sat down and had a cup of tea and watched it.
Ben Sigmund - We woke up the next day and had a massive barbecue and my dairy owner from the Paparangi dairy, he supplied all the food for the breakfast, and it was just a moment that will be tough to repeat. We'll look forward to hopefully doing it again this time.
THREE WEEKS ON
Nelsen - It was a special time. In terms of the whole atmosphere, it was incredible. I was really surprised that a New Zealand football crowd could create such a good atmosphere. I didn't expect anything like that. In terms of the whole special night, it was up there and I will always remember it.
But I think the World Cup surpassed that. As soon as it happened, it was awesome but my main feeling was, and no disrespect to the 1982 team but I think they were just happy to be there because they were amateurs against pros, we have to do something [special at the World Cup]. I think the World Cup was the most stressful but satisfying and enjoyable time of my career.
Sigmund - You're just on cloud nine. Our lives changed hugely straight after that game - sponsorship, recognition, from the community, from the public. There's all sorts of stuff that changed for us and football got put on a pedestal a bit more. For me, that was really nice to be able to say you were a part of that and helped it grow and it's still growing now. Hopefully if we can do it again it'll get another boost and keep going.
Wood - I don't think we all knew how big it could be if we actually qualified. We saw how big everyone thought it was going to be, what we could achieve if we won what we could do and how we could be remembered. Everyone talks about the '82 team and how great they are, and we knew that if we could do it, everyone would remember us as well.
Paston - I think once we'd qualified the talk was now, `who is going to be drawn in our group?' and `is it Brazil, is it England?'. All the players went back to their clubs and I went on and decided to break my leg, so it's weird how things work. If I was going to break my leg, it was a perfect time to do it, I suppose, a week after the World Cup qualifier. It gave me enough time to recover for the World Cup; so, perfect timing.
Paston's leg would heal and he would once again play a vital role for the All Whites as they went through pool play at the 2010 World Cup unbeaten following draws with Slovakia (1-1), defending champions Italy (1-1) and Paraguay (0-0). It wasn't enough to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament but their 1-1 draw against Italy goes down as one of the biggest surprises in World Cup history. The side went on to win the Team of the Year prize along with the supreme award at the Halberg Awards while Herbert was named Coach of the Year.
Additional interviews by Michael Brown. Editing by Michael Brown and Cameron McMillan.
- This piece was originally published on November 19, 2013