Retiring Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Mark Paston is confident the decision to hang up his boots was the right one.
Paston, 36, brought the curtain down on six years in Wellington with a 3-2 loss to Melbourne Victory on Sunday as the Phoenix could not avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Following the match Paston said there was obviously sadness at ending his professional football career but excitement about what lay ahead.
“This moment you know it’s coming eventually,” he said. “The decision is always supposed to be tough but I think I’ve made the right decision.”
The New Zealand international has battled back from two broken legs as well as other injuries during his time with the Phoenix and New Zealand, and said the physical toll of training and playing week in week out was one of the reasons behind his decision to quit.
“I tend to get to December and my body starts seizing up and the guys have a bit of a laugh at training when I start warming up when I can barely walk let alone run,” said the affable goalkeeper.
“It gets harder every year. That side of things does take away the enjoyment a bit when you spend more time warming up than actually training.”
Spending more time with wife Amy and children Jack, Benji and Charlie was also a major factor.
But he has left the door open on his All Whites career.
“I can’t commit (to it) at this stage and I don’t want to,” said Paston, who hopes to move into IT now.
“I’ll need to have that conversation with a few people. If I am going to do it I want to make sure I do it for the right reasons.
“It’s important to separate the two (the Phoenix and All Whites). Playing professionally is 10, 11 months of the year and it’s five or six days a week and a huge amount of travel.
“It does take a toll on your body and on your mind as well. I just felt like it was time to move on from that.
“Whether that means my All White career is over I don’t know at this stage. I need some time out to recharge and see how we go.”
Interim Phoenix coach Chris Greenacre was effusive in his praise of the goalkeeper, who entered New Zealand football folklore when his penalty save against Bahrain got New Zealand to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the guy,” said Greenacre. “I think he’s been a great ambassador for the game in New Zealand.
“For young players he’s probably one of the best role models you could have. He’s a family man and watching him at training working day in, day out and then the brilliance he produces on a Saturday. He’s got absolutely everything. I’m proud to say that I played with him.
“We wish him all the best and all the luck in the world with his new career. I’m sure he’ll be a massive success at that as well.”
Greenacre also believed Paston and his team-mates could hold their heads high after showing some resilience in the final weeks of a horror season that cost Ricki
Herbert his job.
“When Jonathan (assistant coach Jonathan Gould) and I took over five weeks ago I just asked the players to eat, live and breathe the football club and they’ve done that,” said the Englishman, who led the Phoenix to two wins and three losses.
“It was important that we gave the players a direction in how we wanted to do things and that was to play attacking, expansive football.
“I think today has been a perfect example of what we’ve asked them to do. It would have been quite easy just to sit back and let Melbourne Victory dictate the game as they do to a lot of teams.
“It was important we took the game to them. I thought the boys did that today.
“I’d like to think I can hold my head really high. I’m proud to do that for these players. They’ve given us everything and when players give you everything you can’t ask any more.”
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