Andrew Durante has revealed Sunday’s match against Melbourne City could be his last ever game at Westpac Stadium.
The Wellington Phoenix stalwart is considering whether 2018/19 will be his final season in football and, following Adelaide’s 1-0 triumph over Melbourne Victory on Good Friday, the race for fourth place is no longer in the Nix’s hands.
The 36-year-old became the first player to reach 300 Hyundai A-League games in January and has rolled back the years this season, forming a steely partnership with Premier League veteran Steven Taylor in the Wellington backline.
Durante has started 24 Hyundai A-League games as Phoenix shed the tag of underachievers and mounted a charge for finals football under the reign of soon-to-be departing coach Mark Rudan.
And the former New Zealand international, who joined the Kiwi club in 2008 after lifting the Hyundai A-League title with the Newcastle Jets, admits he needs time to clear his mind before making the call on whether to extend his career in a 19th season
“It could definitely be my last game at Westpac Stadium, for sure,” Durante admits.
“I want to give myself a little bit of time away from the game to really make a clear decision. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had a good career and I’m done.
“And then other days I feel like my body is good and I’m performing well and I could go around again.
“Sometimes you lose a few games and you think ‘maybe it’s done’, win a few games and you want to carry on, so I really need a clear mind.
“I want to take some time at the end of the season and really analyse everything and make a clear decision about whether I stay on or not.”
Back-to-back defeats on the road against Adelaide and the Brisbane Roar have put a dent in Phoenix’s bid to clinch a home finals match in May.
But Durante refuses to put the disappointing run of form down to speculation about Rudan’s future. Wellington's coach confirmed his imminent departure this week.
“It's finally out and we can move on from it and focus on the positive stuff, and that’s finals football and there’s still an opportunity for us to get fourth spot,” Durante added.
“Players were made aware of this quite a while ago that Mark is potentially going to be moving on and we had some really successful, positive games in that time. It’s just the last two games we’ve been poor.
“We’ve started poorly, and for me, it’s got no relevance to the news that’s broken. It’s been reviewed and analysed. Back at home, we’ve had a really good run so we expect to come out firing and start really well.”
Durante paid tribute to the impact that Rudan has made in such a short space of time, highlighting his desire to respect the traditions of the land of the long white cloud.
“It’s disappointing that such a great coach and a good person who has really bought into the football club [is leaving],” said Durante.
“He’s bought into the culture of the country and the city, and he’s really embraced it. He’s took it on more than any coach that I can remember in terms of bringing some of the Māori traditions into the changing room.
“On the other hand, I completely respect the decision. I’m a family man also and I can imagine how difficult it is for him. Now the focus is, we just want to win it.
“We want to make this year the most successful year we’ve ever had.
“Next year, the club will sort itself out but this year is about Mark being the coach, the players focused on finals football and doing something special.”