If you mentioned Mark Paston's name to a football fan in New Zealand, one thing would probably spring to their mind - that penalty save for the All Whites against Bahrain at Westpac Stadium in November, 2009.

That stop from Sayed Mohamed Adnan's spot kick ensured New Zealand held on to their slender 1-0 advantage over Bahrain as they booked their ticket to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Paston's heroics at the Cake Tin that night was one of the standout moments of his time in the game, but it was in far less glamorous circumstances that he finished his professional career yesterday.

The venue was the same - Westpac Stadium - but as the Phoenix fell to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Melbourne Victory and picked up the A-League's wooden spoon, it marked the end of Paston's time on the Phoenix roster.


The 1.95m custodian was a foundation member of the club and made 72 appearances for the Wellingtonians, but the drain of the constant travel and the desire to spend more time with his young family has seen Paston retire from professional football.

He may have one last run with the All Whites left in him as they try to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil, but for now the 36-year-old will take some time out to let his weary body recover before he makes a concrete decision on that front.

Paston couldn't put his finger on a specific moment that led him to his decision but said the grind of training and the toll it took on his body eventually wore him down.

"It gets harder every year, I suppose, and that side of things does take away from the enjoyment a bit when I suppose you spend more time warming up than actually training sometimes, so it's quite hard," he said.

"This moment, you know it's coming around eventually and I suppose to make that decision's always tough but I think I've made the right decision."

With youngsters Jack, 3, Benji, 2, and Charlie, 1, at home as well as wife, Amy, Paston said he didn't want to miss seeing his children grow up.

"You go away for a week, two weeks and you do notice a difference, and I'd like to spend some time with them."

After his break, Paston will move into a career in IT.

Interim Phoenix coach Chris Greenacre, who also played alongside Paston at the club before he retired, said the big shot-stopper was a consummate professional.

"I can't speak highly enough of the guy," Greenacre said. "I think he's been a great ambassador for the game in New Zealand. I think for young players he's probably one of the best role models you could have on and off the field the way he conducts himself.

"The way he's a family man and watching him training, working day in and 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."

Sadly, the Phoenix couldn't send Paston out on a winning note as goals to Marco Rojas, Marcos Flores and a late winner to Archie Thompson proved too much for the Wellingtonians to handle.

The Phoenix needed only a draw to avoid the wooden spoon, and when Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie pulled the score back to 2-2 mid-way through the second spell, Wellington looked like they would dodge the unwanted kitchen utensil.

But Thompson's 84th minute strike from a well-worked free kick consigned Wellington to last place and marked the end of a disappointing A-League campaign.


Melbourne Victory 3 (Marco Rojas 10, Marcos Flores 57, Archie Thompson 84)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Stein Huysegems 65, Jeremy Brockie 66) HT: 1-0