CHAMPION Central Coast Mariners defender Patrick Zwaanswijk, 38, has confirmed he will retire from professional football following the Club’s 2013 AFC Champions League round of 16 two-match tie against Chinese heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande.
While the inspiring Dutch defender will play his final professional game on Australian soil against Marcello Lippi’s men in Gosford on Wednesday 15 May, he will not be lost to the Club following the reverse fixture in China seven days later.
Indeed, the Mariners are pleased to announce that Zwaanswijk will remain with the Club as Head of Youth & Community Football for the next three years.
Under Zwaanswijk’s new portfolio, the 2013 Hyundai A-League Grand Final goalscorer will be the Club’s new National Youth League (NYL) Head Coach.
The former FC Utrecht and Oita Trinita defender will also act as the Mariners’ liaison with Central Coast Football (CCF) regarding the Academy pathway.
In addition, part of Zwaanswijk’s remit will be to oversee the Club’s relations with local football clubs, and use his vast experience in the game to identify new players for the Club’s youth 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 Zach 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.”
Zwaanswijk rates his 2013 Hyundai A-League Championship success alongside his back-to-back Dutch Cup crowns won with FC Utrecht in 2003 and 2004.
He said his farewell from Eredivisie outfit NAC Breda, with whom he played between 2005 and 2010, also features fondly in his extensive list of career highlights, and hopes a big crowd will be in attendance to wish him and the team well against Guangzhou.
“I have to say my farewell at my former club NAC Breda was a big big thing,” he said. “I flew back to Holland after my first year here to have my farewell there and that was amazing,” he said.
“I hope there’s two more highlights in my career to come. One, the qualification to the quarterfinals in the Champions League, and two, my farewell with the Central Coast people”
“I hope everyone is going to turn up to cheer not only me on, but the squad on, because we’re looking for a big moment and a big opportunity to beat one of the best Clubs in China.”
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 Chairman and Group General Manager, Mr Peter Turnbull, said: “Patrick Zwaanswijk has been a tower of strength for the team on and off the field since his arrival.”
“His leadership has been obvious since he stepped foot in Australia, and he’s especially helped the likes of Alex Wilkinson, Trent Sainsbury and Mathew Ryan to reach new levels in their professional careers.”
“We are now excited that Patrick can continue his leadership in a new role.”
“I know our youth players will be excited to have a person of Patrick’s stature to coach, mentor and advise them, as will so many of the community coaches in the region when Patrick begins to move around the association in his new role."
Zwaanswijk will take over the NYL Head Coaching position from John McLafferty. The Club would like to thank for McLafferty for his efforts in guiding the side to an excellent second place finish in the 2012/13 version of Australia’s premier youth football competition.
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
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