Zwaanswijk to retire

Veteran Central Coast defender Patrick Zwaanswijk is to retire after the Mariners' AFC Champions League tie against Guangzhou Evergrande.

Veteran Central Coast defender Patrick Zwaanswijk, 38, has confirmed he will retire from professional football following the Mariners' AFC Champions League round of 16 two-match tie against Chinese heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande.

The Dutch defender will play his final professional game on Australian soil against Marcello Lippi-s men in Gosford on Wednesday 15 May, and will take on the role of Youth team head coach and Head of Youth & Community Football.

The former FC Utrecht and Oita Trinita defender will also act as the Mariners- liaison with Central Coast Football (CCF) regarding the Academy pathway.

Zwaanswijk said that after nearly two decades of playing professional football in his native Netherlands, as well as in Japan and Australia, the time had come for him to hang up his boots and commence a new section of his football journey.

“At a certain point there-s a transition in life,” Zwaanswijk said. “This is a great opportunity for me, so that made it a little bit easier for me to finish my career.”

“For me, it-s important to give back to football and to give back to, at this particular time, the Central Coast Mariners.”

“It-s time to step out of the way to give Zac Anderson a good chance with (Trent) Sainsbury. He-s (Anderson) shown he is a full first team player, and with me stepping out of the way it gives him the chance to get all the credit he deserves."

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach, Graham Arnold, praised Zwaanswijk as one of the best foreigners to ever to grace the Australian domestic scene.

“When we signed Patrick he was 35 and more than a fair share of eyebrows were raised about him joining us,” Arnold said. “But he has proven his quality over the past three seasons, making an enormous contribution to the Mariners and the A-League.”

“He-s been a consistent performer for us, and his leadership qualities and ability to help other players get the best out of themselves cannot be doubted. Alex Wilkinson, Trent Sainsbury and Zach Anderson have all improved their game by playing next to him.”

Central Coast Mariners (AUS) vs. Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) 2013 AFC Champions League Round of 16 First-Leg Wednesday 15 May, 2013 Central Coast Stadium, Gosford Kick-off: 7:30pm Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter. The official hash tag for the game is #CCMvGE