Tim Brown's decision to retire from soccer comes as a shock and the long-serving All Whites midfielder will be missed, New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum says.
Brown will retire from all football when the Phoenix's A-League campaign ends, returning instead to his studies after the opportunity to study for a masters degree in management at either the London School of Economics or Cambridge University proved too tempting to pass up.
Van Hattum says the former All Whites captain, who made 30 appearances for New Zealand, had been a constant for New Zealand since his 2004 debut.
"Tim's a home-grown talent that has not only been part of a wonderful era for the game, he's been an integral part of the resurgence of football in New Zealand," van Hattum said.
Brown's announcement comes just before the All Whites begin their qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
A shoulder injury meant Brown missed getting on the field during the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010, but he says there was no real temptation to stick around for another shot at football's biggest prize.
"When you embark on a journey like that, you have to give it everything. That's what we did last time and we were rewarded," Brown said.
"You can't be half-hearted and if you are starting to think about other things, as I was, I couldn't be certain I could give 100 per cent."
Brown has played 110 times for the Phoenix, and he's keen to play a few more.
The Phoenix have a knockout semifinal on Friday against Sydney FC, and Brown says he's confident the under-rated Wellington club can mount a serious assault on the grand final.
"I've felt all along that we could do something special this season," he said.
"While I don't want to believe in fairy tales, it would be great to go on and win something with this group of players."