“I’m proud of my resilience”: Topor-Stanley shares thoughts on career as milestone looms
Newcastle Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley has seen some great players come and go during his time in the Hyundai A-League.
The 33-year old made his Hyundai A-League debut for Sydney FC back in 2006 and has seen it all during a long and successful career.
In fact, Topor-Stanley will jump to second on the all-time Hyundai A-League appearance list when he plays his 279th game, coincidentally against the Sky Blues at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday.
Speaking to newcastlejets.com.au, Topor-Stanley revealed the most impressive player he has ever had the honour of sharing a change room with.
“Best player I’ve played with is probably Shinji Ono because he was a technically gifted player,” Topor-Stanley said.
“He was classy, he was a difference-maker but also he came at a time where he probably didn’t have to work as hard as he did but he was leading on and off the field in terms of work-rate, in terms of intensity, in terms of how serious he took the game and I had a lot of respect for him.
“He’d been and done it all in Europe, he came out here as a new challenge, he took it very, very seriously and he brought, I think, Australian football to a new level.”
Sandwiched in between his two stints at the Jets, Topor-Stanley played a vital role in the formation and early success of Western Sydney Wanderers.
That period saw the Wanderers battle regularly with Brisbane Roar for Hyundai A-League supremacy and it was a certain Roar playmaker who Topor-Stanley rates as his toughest opponent.
“In the A-League it would probably be Thomas Broich,” he said.
“I think he was, similar to Shinji, a difference-maker for that Brisbane team and a vital cog. He had a great supporting cast but playing against him was extremely difficult.
“He would float around the pitch and once you think you had him you didn’t and he would go past you. He could assist, he could score and from all reports from his teammates he was a very humble person and a good teammate.”
While the Canberran-born defender remains the only Australian captain to lift the AFC Champions League trophy, it’s not that or any other success that he rates as his proudest moment or even his greatest achievement.
Instead, it’s something far closer to his heart that takes the cake in both categories.
“Last year I got to walk out as captain with my daughter, my wife and I had a baby girl and holding her out there was a special moment for me,” Topor-Stanley revealed.
“I’m a family man and that’s the most important thing I hold dear in my life and to be able to walk out with her certainly was very special.
“I started professional football at 21 which by all means is a very late…to be behind the eight-ball and then to still be standing here at 33 when a lot of my teammates and people that I grew up with, probably far better players than me, they came earlier into the league but also left earlier and I’m still standing.
“It makes me proud of my resilience and to still be producing at a decent level for the Newcastle Jets.”