Mile Sterjovski farewells A-League


Mile Sterjovski, one of Wollongong's finest. Picture: BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Mile Sterjovski, one of Wollongong's finest. Picture: BRENDAN ESPOSITO

When John Aloisi scored the most famous penalty in Australian football history, Mile Sterjovski had one thing on his mind.

One way or another, he'd be on the plane to Germany for the World Cup.

Left out of the Socceroos' squad to face Uruguay in 2006, Sterjovski went on to start in three out of four World Cup matches and etch his name among the country's "golden generation" of footballers.

Fittingly, eight years down the track he will join two more of the nation's greats at the A-League exit door.

After the Central Coast Mariners finals and Asian Champions League campaigns, Sterjovski will call time alongside Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton.

It's the end of a sterling career as one of Wollongong's finest footballing exports.

"As a young kid you dream about playing in a World Cup, playing for the Socceroos and playing in Europe. I was fortunate enough to do all those things," Sterjovksi reflected.

"When you think about how do you rate success? It is all about the goals and dreams you have as an individual.

"I was lucky enough to achieve a lot of those goals so I am very happy with how my career has gone and have no regrets with any of the decisions I have made throughout my career."

After nearly a decade plying his trade in Europe at the highest level with Lille, FC Basel, Hacettepe SK and Derby County, Sterjovski returned to Australian shores in 2009 to take up a position at the Perth Glory.

Playing as a "marquee" player, he would help guide a club that had under-achieved in the young competition.

"I know in Perth it was a bit of a rollercoaster. But when I look at the club before I arrived they hadn't made finals," Sterjovski said.

"To have made the final series two out of three years I was there and the grand final in one, I would say that it was very successful.

"Then to join the Mariners [in 2012] and win the grand final in the first year and again finish third in my second year, it is great for the club."

At 34, Sterjovski announced his retirement from the game in February this year and can scarcely imagine a better place to pull up stumps than the Central Coast.

"Right from day one it felt like a family," Sterjovski said.

"It is a family environment and it is a credit to the whole club the way they have done things."

The Mariners take on Adelaide United in Gosford on Saturday night in what could be Sterjovski's last A-League fixture.

He will take part in the club's remaining Asian Champions League campaign, but the evergreen winger isn't planning on tumbling into retirement without one last A-League fight.

"They are all big matches and anything can happen in the finals," Sterjovski said.

"Any team can put on a good performance and you only have one chance so what I take from it is, you only have one chance and you have to turn up on the day.

"Don't leave anything in the tank."


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