'Stay loyal and keep believing' - a captain's plea to Wanderers faithful
Western Sydney Wanderers captain Mitchell Duke has urged fans of the Red and Black to look forward to a bright future after his side ended a disappointing Hyundai A-League campaign with a win over Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night.
The Wanderers jumped into eighth position on the table after the 2-1 win over Victory but could be sent back into ninth should Newcastle Jets defeat Wellington Phoenix on Thursday night.
It's a bright end to what's been a relatively dark campaign for the Wanderers, who miss out on a place in the Finals Series for a third consecutive season.
With rumours circling his apparent impending departure from the club, Duke spoke like a true Wanderers fan when summarising his side's efforts throughout the 2019/20 campaign, whilst calling on the supporter base to back them to improve in the years to come.
"Stay loyal and keep believing," Duke told FOX Sports post-match.
"I think we’ve shown signs this year of what we can do, it’s just now for the club themselves and the players to make sure they put in consistent performances and get the club back to where they were when it first started, back to that success.
"With everything we’ve got now at the club with the facilities and the stadium, it’s time to show everyone we are a big club, and that’s up to the players being consistent week in, week out.
"Being the captain has been a massive honour and a new role I enjoyed in my career and something I'm going to look back on and be very proud about.
"I’m going to miss it - if it is the case.
"Nothing’s been signed yet, but the discussions will start to heat up now that I’m not injured and I’ve gotten through everything okay - we’ll see what happens over the next few days I think.
"I’ve really enjoyed playing here - the fans have been unbelievable, very loyal and understanding.
"I know it’s been frustrating at times to support us but like I said keep believing, this is an amazing stadium especially when they fill it out and show their passionate support.
Keep it up and I think the boys will repay them next season."
Another Wanderers player whose future is far more clear than Duke's is Pirmin Schwegler, who was notably emotional after playing the last game of a 17-year career against Victory on Wednesday night.
The Swiss midfielder featured in Switzerland's 2010 FIFA World Cup squad and made more than 250 appearances in the German Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt, 1899 Hoffenheim and Hannover 96.
But Schwegler says he ranks his time in Western Sydney up there with the best memories he's made in his career.
"I can’t say one moment, there were plenty," Schwegler said when trying to pick a highlight of his playing days.
"I had the opportunity and the chance to play at Wembley with the national team, the World Cup in South Africa and even this year, I really enjoyed it here, and I will never forget it.
"As I said to the team, I can just say thank you, it was a pleasure to be here, unfortunately we didn’t get to the finals, I think this club deserved it and especially the fans.
I hope very, very soon this stadium will be sold out, they deserve it definitely."
Much like how the Wanderers ended their 2019/20 campaign Schwegler ensured he bowed out on a high, scoring just his second goal of the season in the last game of his career, and what a goal it was.
"I think I started too late with scoring," Schwegler said.
"It was definitely a good feeling.
"I spoke before the game to the boys, i just wanted to say thank you to the boys, it was a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to be a part of this team.
"It was a special year definitely - in the end it was a great year for me, a new experience and I’ll never forget it.
"The whole day was a bit different than the last games and so emotional.
"I had pictures in my mind the whole day - in the end 17 years as a professional player, I’ve enjoyed every single day."
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