An emotional Archie Thompson admits it’s still hard to comprehend his Melbourne Victory career is coming to an end but walks away content to have left a lasting legacy at the club.
Thompson played his last home match for Victory in Tuesday night’s 1-1 AFC Champions League draw against Jeonbuk Motors.
The 37-year-old still has one more game for the club – next week’s second leg in Korea – but that was his last appearance in front of the home fans after an incredible 11 seasons.
More than 11,000 home supporters gave Thompson a memorable farewell at AAMI Park, chanting his name all night and unfurling a banner when he was substituted midway through the second half.
Thompson couldn’t hold back the tears as he walked off and took his seat on the bench, admitting he’s been struggling to deal with the realisation his time at Victory is almost up.
“It’s been pretty emotional. It’s been a long two or three weeks...the tear ducts are just about empty,” Thompson told Fox Sports.
“That chant and that cheer that the supporters gave me is something I’ll live with for the rest of my life. And it’s been an absolute pleasure.
“I consider myself to be one of the guys in the terraces and supporting the club, I’ve always wore my heart on my sleeve.
“I’ve said I bleed blue and that will continue. I love this club, I love the supporters and they have made it very special for me.”
Thompson is the oldest ever to play for Victory and scored the club’s first Hyundai A-League goal back on the opening weekend of Season 1 against Sydney FC.
He played more than 260 games for the club and scored 97 goals in all competitions and is still the A-League’s greatest-ever scorer.
“I’ve said it so many times, it’s the players, the people you meet, the people that touch you, the people that you touch. It’s been a rollercoaster ride and something I’ll never forget,” Thompson said.
“I love the supporters. From day one the supporters are this club and I’m glad they adopted me as one of theirs.
“When anyone thinks of Melbourne Victory they think of Archie Thompson, that’s a great legacy to leave.
“[But] there’s not a lot of talk about retiring the number 10…what about it boys,” Thompson joked.
Coach Kevin Muscat said of the Thompson farewell: “It’s fitting we can give him a send-off and the fans come out and support him.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get the result which would have been a lot better.”
Tuesday’s night’s game was also the last home appearance for defender Matthieu Delpierre, who is retiring after next week’s second leg, while winger Kosta Barbarouses is heading to Wellington Phoenix next season.