Petkovic to bow out on the pitch
After nearly two decades of keeping opposition attacks at bay, champion Perth Glory goal keeper Jason Petkovic will hang up his gloves at season’s end but not before one last battle between the posts.
After nearly two decades of keeping opposition attacks at bay, champion Perth Glory goal keeper Jason Petkovic will hang up his gloves at season-s end but not before one last battle between the posts.
The 35 year old today announced he-ll retire when his contract expires at the end of March but has been handed the chance to farewell Glory supporters when he starts in goal against Melbourne on Sunday at Members Equity Stadium.
"It means a lot. It is a sense of closure for me and just a way of saying thanks to all the fans,” Petkovic said.
"It's always a tough decision to retire and I've been toying with it for a while now but finally decided this week. There was some speculation but I wanted to put a clear message out there," he added.
His promotion to the starting line-up, in place of young gun Tando Velaphi, isn-t just a sentimental gesture by Dave Mitchell, the Glory coach adamant Petkovic will be a formidable foe for Melbourne on the last line of defence.
"Jason is definitely capable of playing in goal I can assure you of that. He has been outstanding at training and it-s only Tando-s good form that has kept him out of the side," Mitchell said.
"It's not a decision because he's a mate of mine or sympathetic reasons, it's because he's good enough to play.
“It-s also fitting that he-ll be out there in our last home game of the season and I hope all of our supporters can turn out and give Jason a great send-off because he has been a wonderful servant of this club and Australian football.”
Petkovic was a major influence in Perth Glory-s rise to dominance, playing 176 matches including four grand finals and back-to-back Championships in 2002/03 and 2003/04.
Plucked from local club Spearwood Dalmatinac in 1993 he played 155 matches for Adelaide City before returning to his home town six years later. This week-s match will take his total to an incredible 332 outings at Australian-s top level.
Named Goal keeper of the Year in 2003/04 his talents were also recognised with 15 Socceroos caps, the star custodian keeping eight clean sheets in his time with the national team.
“The time is right for me to end one chapter and begin another,” Petkovic said.
“I-d like to thank the many wonderful people I-ve had the opportunity to meet during my time both in Australia and overseas. In particular my sincere thanks must go to Perth Glory and all the people that have been a part of this club for many years. The support and passion from so many have been an integral part of my career that has left me with lasting memories of my time in this great game.
“My decision, while not an easy one, has come at a period in my life that will allow me the time to spend with my greatest supporters, my wife and our two beautiful children, who I-d also like to thank for allowing me to be on this incredible journey.”
It hasn-t been all smooth sailing for Petkovic who had to overcome a horrific broken leg sustained in an on field collision with close friend and former team mate Damian Mori in 2006.
Despite fears he-d never make it back onto the pitch, Petkovic called on all his determination to complete a 14 month rehabilitation and return to the Glory line-up.
"It was probably the toughest part of my career," Petkovic said.
"It's been a long road back but I wouldn't have changed it because it taught me a lot about myself and I came through it in the end.
"There was speculation I wouldn't be able to play again but I proved that wrong and I'm proud of that fact."
Following the season Petkovic will take a few months off to assess his options but has indicated his willingness to return to the club in an off field capacity. Whatever his future holds there is one given, he-ll be in the stands at Members Equity Stadium each week cheering the team on.
“I have enjoyed my time with Perth Glory and I-m looking forward to doing what I can for the team, albeit in a different capacity, into the future.
“Best wishes to Mitch, the club and my team mates for next season, I feel that with the current blend of young talent available, this club has a very real chance of restoring itself to its former glory,” he said.