From the National Soccer League to the A-League and then international football – Eugene Galekovic has seen just about everything in Australian football.
At 38 – after winning Melbourne City’s player of the season – the shot-stopper announced his retirement, ending his 20-year career as a professional footballer as an immortal.
Galekovic is one of twelve who is still going after the disbandment of the NSL – starting at Melbourne Knights before earning his stripes at Eastern Pride and South Melbourne.
He has made the second-most league appearances in the A-League (284) and lifted silverware at Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United.
In all competitions the 38-year-old has made 345 appearances, keeping 107 clean sheets along the way – the most of any goalkeeper.
His form in the A-League earned him multiple call ups to the national team, with his international debut coming in an Asian Cup qualifier against Indonesia in 2009.
Heading into his final season, many expected the veteran would take a backseat role to the incoming Mark Birighitti, with Galekovic’s inclusion in the opening round surprising many.
Warren Joyce did not look back after his performance and stuck with Galekovic for the remainder of the season – arguably Joyce’s best decision for the season.
What Galekovic achieved this season is nothing short of remarkable – acting as City’s saviour time and time again.
While he never reached the heights of goalkeepers like Mark Schwarzer or Matt Ryan – Galekovic will go down in A-League folklore not only as a successful goalkeeper but as a player universally loved.
His contribution to the A-League and Australian football should be commended, considering he played through some of the code’s greatest transitions and transformations yet.
Galekovic joins an impressive class of 2019 – hanging up the boots alongside Matt McKay, Mark Bridge, Alex Brosque and Brendon Santalab.
Only Glen Moss, Andrew Durante, Alex Wilkinson, Danny Vukovic, Liam Reddy, Nigel Boogard, Vince Lia and Tarek Elrich remain out of those who made the switch from the NSL to the A-League.