Patrick Zwaanswijk thinks it might be time for him to hang them up. And people say the fairy-tale didn't come true yesterday, they couldn't be further off the mark.
Everyone is saying the fairytale didn-t happen. Maybe not the one from Western Sydney but the Mariners had their own happy ending. And after a few years of heartbreak one man got to stand tall in a grand final and erase painful memories of finals series gone by.
Veteran Mariners defender Patrick Zwaanswijk doesn-t get the fanfare of a Del Piero or Ono, but Graham Arnold-s Dutch mate has been delivering for the Mariners since the day he arrived from NAC Breda in 2010, and yesterday he found his salvation.
His missed penalty last season against Perth Glory in regular time was part of the reason the Mariners didn-t make it to the grand final then, but his 44th-minute header to give them a 1-0 lead helped Central Coast to their maiden grand final triumph, and might have just given Zwaanswijk the fairytale farewell as a player.
The affable Dutchman admitted post-match that a winning final might just be the perfect time for him to hang up those well-worn boots before a career in coaching.
“I-m really thinking about stopping on a high note and going into coaching and becoming the next Popovic or the next Graham Arnold,” Zwaanswijk said.
“It-s my destiny to give young Australian kids a chance. I think I understand what the league needs, what the supporters want and what the Socceroos might need; we-re talking about it at the moment but it looks like I am going to stay with the Mariners for a long time.”
One man who couldn-t be happier for Zwaanswijk was his centre half partner Trent Sainsbury. The in-form and in-demand youngster was admittedly sad his mentor might be done with football, but also couldn-t imagine a more fitting farewell for the man he has credited with improving his game to the level, where he is now one of the premier defenders in the A-League.
“It-s unbelievable for him, he has had a great career,” Sainsbury said.
“When I first came to the club I was putting WD40 in his wheelchair to keep him playing week-in-week-out! But I have learnt so much off him and if he was to go out like that good luck to him coaching and he would be great at that, he is King Zwanny.”
The respect and affection Sainsbury has for Zwaanswijk is clear and given that so much of the game-plan at Central Coast hinges on their defence, they had important roles to play, Sainsbury admitting the top priority last night was a clean sheet.
“The first goal at the start of the game was a clean sheet, because if you get a clean sheet you get a victory and Arnie-s game plan worked out sweet for us,” a rapt Sainsbury said, before admitting this time around the nerves didn-t get to him and the ghosts of the Mariners past did not affect him on the field.
“The weight that has been lifted off our shoulders is unbelievable and the euphoria we have in the rooms is unbelievable.
“I-m a pretty laid back guy, I didn-t really get the butterflies or anything, I had the butterflies two years ago and we lost that grand final under… I don-t know what kind of circumstances you call it but the feeling we have now is unbelievable.
“We have learnt from that in past grand finals you can-t rest at 2-0 you just have to push through and finish strong and we did that so it is a huge achievement.”
It-s quite possible that the achievement may be the last time a number of these players are together in the A-League, Mat Ryan is off contract, Zwaanswijk is set to retire from the game and Sainsbury if you believe the hype is being scouted by a number of European clubs, but he insists Europe is the furthest thing from his mind right now.
“To be honest nothing has been confirmed, it-s just a lot of people talking, a lot of speculation and I-m just going to bide my time, it-s good to get a little bit of recognition but there is still a job to do and to focus on in the ACL.”