Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard has called time on his career.
After 16 seasons in the A-League, the 34-year-old has decided this season will be his last.
“When the season started, I had in my mind that this would probably be it,” Boogaard said.
“It gave me the freedom enjoy it a little bit more and relive a little bit of the pressure off myself. Taking the time to reflect on my career, I’ve been blessed, I’ve been able to play for 16 years.
“If you asked me as a kid if I wanted to play professional football for 16 years, I’d take that any day of the week. I want to thank my coaches, staff and most importantly, my teammates for making the best job in the world, so special.”
A local product who has gone on to become the Club’s longest serving captain, Boogaard has played 122 A-League games for his hometown club, 121 as captain.
Jets Executive Chairman, Shane Mattiske said; “This Club is incredibly proud and very fortunate to have had Nigel as a leader.
“On behalf of the entire Club, we cannot thank Nigel enough for not only his huge contribution to the Jets but also, to the game of football in this region.
“He is a great leader both on and off the field and the perfect representation of the culture we strive to have at this club.
“He will be sorely missed. He is Newcastle through and through and will always be part of this club and held in the highest regard.”
While Boogaard is retiring from playing professionally, he is by no means walking away from the game he loves.
“I started doing my coaching badges which I've got to still finalize because I still want to give back to the game in some way,” he said.
“I’m not turning my back on football because I love it too much. I need to give back to it. Whether it's playing locally somewhere, trying to help some younger players or whether it's coaching. I’ll be giving back to football over the next couple of years.
“But for the meantime, I need to step away and have a break, spend more time with my family enjoy weekends with them as my children grow up.
“I'm looking forward to that. I’m happy with my decision and looking forward to the next chapter."
The central defender began his professional career with the Breakers before linking with the Central Coast for the inaugural 2005/06 A-League season.
Boogaard secured a Premier’s plate but went on to lose 1-0 in the A-League grand final against the Jets.
After five seasons and more than 50 appearances for the club, he moved to Adelaide United.
“Starting at the Mariners as an 18-year-old under Lawrie McKinna was a wonderful learning experience,” Boogaard said.
“I spent five years there and had to learn quickly how to approach things and where my place was. It was a very old school mentality. Being brought up in that era has brought me a lot of tools to help me along the way.
“I loved my time in Central Coast, I know I shouldn’t say that, but I did. As a young footballer, to be given an opportunity was amazing and taught me a lot of values I carried with me throughout my career.”
He played 98 games, claimed an FFA Cup championship and featured in the 2013 A-League All Stars game against English Premier League side Manchester United.
“In Adelaide, I consumed myself with football and felt like they were some of my best years as a player,” Boogaard said.
“I was only 23 but I spent five years down there and thoroughly enjoyed it, we won a FFA cup which was enjoyable, had some great teammates and great coaches there.”
Boogaard joined the Jets in the 2015/16 A-League season and was soon named captain.
It was an honour he will never forget.
“I never thought I’d have the chance to play for this Club, let alone captain it,” Boogaard said.
“I’ve made some friends for life and have some wonderful memories. The highlight would have to be the grand final.
“My teammates will be able to comment on whether I was a good captain or not but I hope I did them, the club and supporters proud. I honestly loved every minute of playing for this club and can’t wait to cheer the team on from the stands next season.”