Sydney FC and Socceroo midfielder Brett Emerton has today announced his decision to retire from professional football.
Australia’s third most capped player has called time on his distinguished career after more than 600 appearances for club and country.
The 34-year old who had eleven years playing at the highest level in Europe will retire from the game immediately, revealing problems with a back injury were part of his decision to hang up his boots.
“It’s widely known I’ve been struggling for fitness this season and those injury concerns have meant it has become increasingly difficult to perform to my best,” said Emerton.
“With the transfer window open I wanted to give Sydney FC the opportunity to replace me if they wished to and I feel it’s the right time and the fairest way for the club and I to part ways.”
Emerton has represented the Socceroos 95 times, after making his debut against Chile in 1998. He also played in two World Cups and won the UEFA Cup with Dutch club Feyenoord in 2002. In 2003 he transferred to English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers where he made 247 appearances before a headline-making move back to the Hyundai A-League to sign with Sydney FC in 2011.
“Obviously I feel blessed to have had such a successful career having played at the highest level in World Cups with the Socceroos, in Europe with Feyenoord and Blackburn Rovers, and in the Hyundai A-League with Sydney FC. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“I’d also like to thank Sydney FC for the opportunity to play back here in Australia and finish my career in a way that I always imagined I would.
“Hopefully my involvement in football won’t end here and I’m looking at a number of opportunities to stay in the game,” he concluded.
Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow praised the contribution the midfielder has made to Sydney FC and to Australian football.
“Brett Emerton is one of the finest footballers this country has ever produced and will be remembered as a trailblazer for the game, becoming one of the first players from these shores to forge a hugely successful career in Europe.
“His contribution both on and off the field has been enormous to the success of the Socceroos and the Hyundai A-League in recent years and I commend him for his great attitude and professionalism while at this club.
“Brett’s decision to return to Australia in 2011 to play in the Hyundai A-League and to join Sydney FC when there were still plenty of lucrative opportunities for him to continue his career in Europe, I believe shows the real mark of the man.
“Brett had a real desire to come home to play for Sydney FC and to give back to Australian football.”
Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop believes Emerton has shown a pathway for young footballers in this country to achieve their dreams.
“Brett is the quintessential Australian football success story, from the suburban fields of Western Sydney to the FIFA World Cup,” he said.
“At every stage, from youth national teams to the Olympic Games, the English Premier League and back to the Hyundai A-League, Brett lived the dream with integrity and supreme dedication.
“His playing career will serve an inspirational story for every boy and girl with ambitions to play football at the highest level.
Sydney FC Head Coach Frank Farina, who has worked with Emerton at both club and country, also paid tribute to the retiring midfielder.
“Brett has been a fine ambassador for the game in Australia and he has helped put football in this country on the map,” said Farina.
“I’ve worked with him as a coach of the Socceroos and here at Sydney FC and he is the model professional.”
Emerton was a key member of Australia’s ‘golden generation’ and helped the Socceroos to their best ever World Cup finish when they were defeated 1-0 by Italy in the second round in 2006.
Sydney FC and Australian football fans will get the chance to farewell the Socceroo at Saturday night’s home game against Central Coast Mariners at Allianz Stadium (kick off 7.45pm) when he will be presented to the crowd.
The midfielder leaves Sydney FC having played 57 times for the club, scoring seven times.
Name: Brett Emerton
DoB: 21st February 1979
Place of birth: Sydney
1996 – 2000 – Sydney Olympic – 94 apps (16 goals)
2000 – 2003 – Feyenoord – 92 (11)
2003 – 2011 – Blackburn Rovers – 247 (13)
2011 – 2014 – Sydney FC – 57 (7)
1994 – 1995 – Australia U17 – 11 apps (1 goal)
1996 – 1999 – Australia U20 – 16 (1)
1997 – 2000 – Australia U23 – 25 (7)
1998 – 2012 – Australia – 95 (20)