Jason Pine is Radio Sport's former football commentator

Football: Emotional farewell for Sigmund

Ben Sigmund says he will miss his team-mates and the fans. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Sigmund says he will miss his team-mates and the fans. Photo / Getty Images

It would be hard to find a more passionate sportsman than Ben Sigmund.

And as the veteran defender prepares to play his final A-League match for the Wellington Phoenix today, he admits to experiencing a rollercoaster week.

"I'm a bit all over the place at the moment," he admitted ahead of today's home game against Western Sydney. "It's been an emotion that I can't explain. I can't control it. It just comes in waves in terms of being sad, being happy, being grumpy.

"It's really weird. Just driving along with the radio on and certain songs come on and you have a wee cry on your own. But it's a proud emotion to say I'm at the end of it all. It's been really hard work to keep going for this long. I'm looking forward to it finishing but I'm sad at the same time."

It's been a difficult season for both Sigmund and the Phoenix. The 35-year-old missed several games this season through injury as his Phoenix side slipped down the table.

They've lost their last three games as they limp to the end of the regular season and sit second-last on the A-League ladder. Today's game will also be the last for Manny Muscat, who leaves after eight seasons with the Phoenix to join Melbourne City.

Sigmund isn't the most gifted footballer, making up for it through hard work and effort, but will be missed and he is naturally nostalgic about what he's about to leave behind, after eight years and 180 games for the Phoenix.

"I will miss my good mates - [Andrew] Durante, Vinnie [Lia], Manny, [Glen] Mossy and Mikey [McGlinchey]. We are family, brothers. I'll miss them the most. I've always said my relationship with Durante is something really special. Not many people will get that relationship in their career with a bloke you can play with for so many years and know and understand him like the back of your hand.

"I'll also miss the fans hugely - the people who have turned up week in, week out. They've got me over the line so many times. They inspire you and drive you when they know they need to and they've certainly won us games by getting behind us."

Sport rarely provides fairytale finishes, and Western Sydney went into the weekend still in with a chance of winning the minor premiership, but Sigmund has a pretty simple plan for his last game.

"Every game has been like a grand final to me. I go out to win every game and I'm proud to wear the Phoenix shirt and I've worn it with pride every time I've gone out there and that won't change this weekend.

"I just want to relax and enjoy the moment. Without forgetting that it's my job to go out and play and perform and win, I want to play with a smile on my face and enjoy it.

"I'm looking forward to walking out with my kids one last time. I'm looking forward to the team putting on a good performance and I think if we do that, we'll win. As long as I can just do what I've always done - give it 100 per cent commitment and drive the boys on - the result will take care of itself."

Afterwards, Sigmund is looking forward to having a beer with family, friends and fans. It's bound to be another emotional experience and there might even be a few more tears.

- Herald on Sunday

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