THE fact that Nigel Boogaard once walked off the pitch with a broken leg rather sums up the nature of one of the A-League’s original hard men.
The fact that Boogaard then turbocharged his recovery from said broken leg, to make sure he appeared for the Jets in the 2018 finals, confirms what we already knew.
It’s also rather typical that Boogaard’s decision to retire after a difficult season for the Jets came with minimal fuss – just a press release, carrying the words of a man at ease with his decision.
It fits the mould in more ways than one, for Boogaard’s exit adds to the exodus of what you’d call the old-school types. Mark Milligan and Andrew Durante shared Boogaard’s get-on-with-it approach to life and to football – no complaints, no moans. All three were cut from the same piece of footballing oak - you earn whatever comes your way by dint of effort, and you lead others down that path through natural leadership.
Of his 122 games for Newcastle, Boogaard was captain for 121 of them. Before that there were more than 50 games for the Central Coast, and almost 100 for Adelaide.
And behind the scenes, for a long time, there has been his influence and involvement at the PFA, working to advance the cause of his peers but always offering a voice of reason. After years as serving as PFA delegate at those three clubs Boogaard joined the PFA executive in 2016.
Now there will be a break from football, to spend more time with his family, before – like Milligan and Durante – a return to join the coaching ranks. It would be apt to see him do that at the Jets as a local product, but for now he has earned the chance to step back and watch as a fan.
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