End of an era: Phoenix legend Durante departs Wellington

Wellington Phoenix have announced club captain and inspirational defender Andrew Durante has left the club.

Phoenix confirmed the news on Tuesday afternoon after Durante took to Instagram earlier in the day to announce his departure from the New Zealand club, his naturalised home of over a decade.

The defender – who became a New Zealand citizen in March 2013 and represented the All Whites 24 times in total - spent 11 seasons with Phoenix after signing from Newcastle Jets in 2008.

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He is Hyundai A-League’s most capped player with 313 appearances and the only player to record over 25,000 minutes in the competition.

"Arriving in Wellington back in 2008 it was well publicised that my initial intentions were to serve my 2-year contract and head back to Australia,” Durante wrote.

"I never would have thought that 11 years on I would still be captaining the team, having played over 270 games for the club.

“On top of that, never in a million years would I have thought that I would also go on to represent the NZ national team on 24 occasions, even captaining NZ on two occasions, an honour I'm extremely privileged to have experienced.”

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Durante
Durante's three daughters were all born in Wellington

Durante - a National Soccer League winner with Sydney Olympic in 2002 and Hyundai A-League Champion with Newcastle Jets in 2008 -  is the latest in a long list of players departing last season's sixth-place finishers.

“It goes without saying that Andrew will be missed," Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison said.

“His leadership, determination, and fight for the club shirt has been unrivalled and he has been a huge contributing factor to the success the club has seen over the years. 

“He leaves a legacy, one that will stay with the club and the fans of the club for years to come."

The club confirmed the exit of forward David Williams on Tuesday, while other key departures have been Johnny Warren Medal-winner Roy Krishna, Goalkeeper of the Year Filip Kurto and impressive midfielder Max Burgess.

The latter two have followed former coach Mark Rudan to Western United, while the destinations of Krishna and Williams, who accounted for 30 of Phoenix's 46 goals in 2018/19, is unknown.

It means the scale of new boss Ufuk Talay's rebuilding job continues to rise, with only nine players at the ex-Sydney FC assistant’s current disposal.

Talay has hinted at bolstering his roster with talented Kiwi youngsters, and made experienced New Zealand international Stefan Marinkovic and Young Socceroos fullback Walter Scott his first signings last week.

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