This weekend Glen Moss becomes the Phoenix's tenth centurion and the first goalkeeper to play 100 Hyundai A-League games for the club.
In the nine-year history of Wellington Phoenix Football Club, only one man has ever played for the club, departed and then returned for more. This weekend, that man – Glen Moss – becomes the Phoenix's tenth centurion and the first goalkeeper to play 100 A-League games for the club.
It was only through a stroke of misfortune that Moss made his Phoenix debut as early as he did. At the final training session the day before the club’s first ever A-League game in August 2007, striker Greg Draper inadvertently kneed first-choice goalkeeper Mark Paston in the head during a training drill. With Paston ruled out, Moss took his place between the sticks, a position he relinquished just once during that historic first season.
The man universally known as “Mossy” had A-League experience before the inception of the Phoenix, playing nine games for the now defunct New Zealand Knights in their first season. Following that, he had a playing stint in Romania before being lured to Wellington in mid-2007.
Moss's form in his first two years in Wellington saw him secure a move to Melbourne Victory for the 2009/10 season, where he was a member of the side that won the A-League under coach Ernie Merrick. He then moved to Gold Coast United where he played all 30 games in the 2010/11 season and the first eleven of what turned out to be that side's final campaign before an abductor injury scuppered his season.
When Gold Coast United folded, Ricki Herbert brought Moss back to Wellington on a three-year deal. Since the retirement of Paston late in the 2012/13 season, Moss has been the undisputed number one, missing just three of the Phoenix’s last 63 matches. In December 2014, he signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him at the club until at least the end of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Moss is among the best shot-stoppers the A-League has seen. You lose count of the number of times he has rescued the Phoenix with flying saves and point-blank stops. Other goalkeepers in the A-League may often gain greater plaudits, but there's absolutely no doubt Moss belongs in the same conversation. For pure reflexes and positioning he's as good as anyone in the competition.
Moss doesn't have a Mark Paston / Bahrain moment on his CV - one single save which stands out and will be remembered forever. Instead, his is a career of consistency, where week-in and week-out he stands firm between the Phoenix sticks, repelling opposition attacks and giving great confidence to those in front of him.
A large part of goal-keeping is just that; engendering confidence in the other ten guys in the team that if they should all be beaten, the last line of defence will save their bacon. When the likes of Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat glance behind them, the sight of Moss in goal must provide real belief that scoring against them won't be an easy task.
For much of his career for club and country, Moss was in a head-to-head battle with Paston to be the number one, number one. Each had their moments of superiority, but – to the credit of both men – there never seemed to be anything other than a positive rivalry between them. They even roomed together on occasion on away trips. Each kept the other honest and both benefited from having the other pushing them as hard as possible.
Moss is a proud kiwi and loves playing for the All Whites. He debuted in 2006 against Malaysia, has played 29 full internationals for New Zealand and captained the side against Japan and South Africa last year.
In late 2008, Moss was sent off for dissent in a dead rubber World Cup qualifier against Fiji and was subsequently suspended for an outrageous four matches. Due to administrative blunder from New Zealand Football (when staff went on their Christmas holidays without lodging an appeal before the due date), Moss was forced to sit out the home-and-away playoff games against Bahrain and the first two games at the 2010 World Cup. By the time he was eligible to play again, his chance had gone with Paston holding his place for the final game of the tournament.
A quirk in the rules meant Moss could play non-World Cup games during his suspension, and he played all three matches at the 2009 Confederations Cup, including an outstanding display in a 0-0 draw with Iraq which saw New Zealand earn its first ever point at a major international tournament. Four years later, in the first leg of the Intercontinental playoff against Mexico in the cauldron of the Azteca Stadium, Moss pulled off a series of stunning saves to deny the home side what could have been a double-figure scoreline.
Despite having not featured for the All Whites in over a year, there's no doubt Moss is still the best available New Zealand goalkeeper. While Jake Gleeson and notably Stefan Marinovic have pushed their claims, it would be a huge surprise if Moss isn’t the goalkeeper when the All Whites kick off their OFC Nations Cup campaign in May.
Moss is one of those guys who seems to have been around forever, but may still have many playing years ahead of him. He's only 32; by comparison, fellow A-League stoppers Eugene Galekovic and Mike Theo are 34, while Thomas Sorensen is 39 and Ante Covic recently turned 40. Goalkeepers can often play for longer than their outfield counterparts, especially if they keep themselves fit, which Moss painstakingly does.
At his career stage, you could forgive him for taking some short-cuts at training, but that is absolutely not the case. In goalkeeping drills, he throws himself around in the same fashion as the younger 'keepers in the squad and offers constant encouragement to his backups when it's their turn in the firing line.
As well as being supremely driven, Moss is also the ultimate team man, and you get the feeling he'd be the first to offer advice and help to anyone who took his place in the starting side. At the moment though, that's unthinkable. Lewis Italiano and Oliver Sail are promising young goalkeepers, but they're not yet in Moss's class.
Moss is good in media situations, giving articulate and honest answers to the questions posed to him. On one memorable occasion, a nervous intern referred to him as Glenn Close, which Moss reacted to brilliantly and humbly, sparing the youngster any further embarrassment.
When his playing days end, Moss has shown an interest in media management. To that end, he has shadowed the Phoenix's media manager Russell Gray to gain an understanding of the role and worked on his writing and interviewing skills. Being able to relate to the players from first-hand experience would give him valuable insight if he eventually takes on that sort of role. Keeping guys like him involved in the game is something which should be hugely encouraged.
Moss is well-settled in the capital now. His wife Melissa recently gave birth to their second child - daughter Savanna - who joins her two-and-half year-old brother Ashton in the growing Moss clan. The lounge reserved for partners and families at Phoenix home games resembles a crèche now with Moss one of many players at the club with a young family.
They say all goalkeepers have a crazy streak, but if Moss has one, he keeps it well-hidden. He's not a ranter or a raver, although he's not shy to give his defenders a message in no uncertain terms if he feels they're exposing him unnecessarily. He's not flamboyant or showy. He's only ever been booked twice in 99 games. He's brilliant with fans, particularly youngsters, posing for endless photos and signing countless autographs. In short, he's just a good solid New Zealander who always greets you with a firm handshake and large grin.
Longevity is one thing, but playing consistently well is the true gauge of any player. As Glen Moss dons the gloves and his trade-mark lime-green kit for the hundredth time, the best endorsement you can give him is this – he is not only the Phoenix's most-capped goalkeeper; he's also the best stopper the club has ever had.
2007/08 20 games (20 starts)
2008/09 13 games (12 starts)
2012/13 6 games (6 starts)
2013/14 25 games (25 starts)
2014/15 27 games (27 starts)
2015/16 8 games (8 starts)
TOTAL: 99 games (98 starts)