Fans from all sides of the sport will be packing AAMI Park to see that Harry Kewell, one of the most famous and loved Australian footballers gets the farewell he deserves.
The 35-year-old announced his retirement from the sport in March, and as he steps onto the turf tonight, will be met with a guard of honour formed by Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney Wanderer players.
Kewell has made 39 appearances in the A-League, 25 for Melbourne Victory and 14 for Heart. His fame lies more in his time overseas, where he became a quick superstar at Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasaray, all while picking up 58 caps for the Socceroos.
Kewell, who didn’t feature in Melbourne Heart’s last two games because of injury,enjoyed coming back to training this week, and will be a shoe in for play tonight.
Injury has riddled Kewell throughout his career and admitted this week that after 13 operations, injury has been his biggest regret.
“My injuries were my biggest regret, I’d be lying if I said that thought (retirement) didn’t creep into my mind (at Liverpool),” he said to the Herald Sun this week.
“Every time I kicked the ball something broke. It was moments like that when I thought I might as well just walk away from the game, I’m done. They’re the moments that truly test you.”
Sadly a win might not be on the cards for Kewell’s last match. Second placed Western Sydney Wanderers are in good stead to steal the win and cement their ladder spot to make it into the finals.
Last chance for finals berth:
Poor Heart, despite having a miracle like comeback have fallen back to the bottom of the table thanks to the better fortunes of Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says he’s ready to spoil Kewell’s farewell for the sake of getting three points, and many expect that’s how the game will end.
In the last match for the season, it will be a desperate fight for finals. Sydney FC will be feeling the biggest pressure, with Newcastle Jets gnawing at their heels.
The Jets need to win and hope Sydney FC lose at home to Perth Glory on Sunday.
A 2-0 Jets win and 2-0 loss for the Sky Blues would do the trick for the club and secure a top six spot.
The teams below the Jets really don’t have much to play for now. All out of the finals race, it will be a battle to motivate players. Wellington Phoenix is up
against Melbourne Victory, and with a home advantage should provide a good fight, but bets are all still on the navy blues.
Perth Glory have had a comeback in the last legs of the season and have boosted themselves off the bottom of the ladder. They could cause a major upset
for Sydney FC, but with travel fatigue and the lack of a home atmosphere, they could be derailed.
Brisbane Roar will be fighting complacency, having won the title weeks before, while their opponents, Central Coast Mariners will have a much tougher task.
The Mariners may be playing for second place and an automatic semi-final berth if the Wanderers fail to win their match.
Winner: 2005 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC
Winner: 2006 FA Cup with Liverpool FC
Winner: 2006 UEFA Super Cup with Liverpool FC
Runner-Up: 2007 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC
60 International Matches for Australia, including 19 goals
Youngest ever debutante for the Socceroos in 1996 at 17 years, 7 months;
Appearances at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup
2000 PFA Premiership Young Player of the Year & PFA Team of the Year
EPL debut for Leeds United in 1996 as a 17 year old
Three-time Oceania Footballer of the Year
PFA Harry Kewell Medal: Awarded to Australia’s Young Player of the Year
Clubs (Appearances, Goals): Leeds United (181, 45), Liverpool (93, 12), Galatasaray (63, 22), Melbourne Victory 25, 8), Al-Gharafa (3,1), Melbourne Heart FC (14, 2)