Coveny calls it a day

Wellington Phoenix veteran Vaughan Coveny has announced his retirement from international football after a glittering 17-year career.

Wellington Phoenix veteran Vaughan Coveny has announced his retirement from international football after a glittering 17-year career.

The 37-year-old admitted that telling his team-mates was one of the hardest things he has ever done in his life.

"To be honest it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," the veteran striker said.

"To stand in front of such a special group of players and coaches and say thanks to everyone and to tell them I was ending my career was very emotional. I didn't expect to get so teary-eyed, frankly."

"But I think it's a good thing to show your emotions and all the guys had tears in their eyes when we got together, shook hands and they wished me the best."

"That was a marvellous tribute, to have my fellow players pay me such respect. I'm hugely thankful for that."

Coveny is New Zealand's all-time leading goal-scorer with 30 goals from 75 matches.

He enjoyed a long and successful career in Australia, playing in the old National Soccer League with the Melbourne Knights and the Wollongong Wolves before beginning an 11-year stint with South Melbourne in the NSL and Victorian Premier League.

It was while he was with South Melbourne that he got the call to join the Newcastle Jets in the Hyundai A-League, with whom he made 31 appearances and scored nine goals.

That led to his dream move, a return home to Wellington to join the Phoenix.

"It's the ultimate, really. When I left in 1992 to go over to Australia I never would have thought that I'd be able to come back in 2007 and be part of a professional team in Wellington," he said.

"It's the end of a great career and leaves a sweet taste in my mouth. I'm finishing where it all started for me, in front of my family and friends and with a group of players I admire and respect."

The decision to retire was a tough one for Coveny, but ultimately it was the right one.

"It was time for me to move on. I haven't had a lot of opportunities this year and I haven't made the sort of contribution I would have liked. It was a gut feeling that it was the right move for me and the club. I've got some other avenues I'd like to go down, like getting into coaching, because I'm still young enough to pursue some new things."

"Right now my family is the biggest consideration. Now I'll be able to spend a lot more time with my wife and two children and that-s something I'm really looking forward to."

"It was also important for me to also make the decision on my own terms. I always wanted to make the decision myself and not be pushed, and I wasn't. I give a lot of credit to (Phoenix coach) Ricki Herbert because he showed a lot of faith in me when he brought me to the club."

"I was an older player and people where asking 'why are you bringing him?' But Ricki stood by me and believed in me, as did (Phoenix owner) Terry Serepisos, who has done wonderful things for Wellington, New Zealand and the game."

Wellington hosts Adelaide in its last home match of the season on Sunday and Coveny has been included in an extended squad to make his last appearance in front of his home fans.