The 2018-19 A-League season will be the last for Melbourne Victory captain Carl Valeri after the 34-year-old announced his plans to retire at the campaign’s conclusion on Friday morning.
The subject of retirement rumours following the conclusion of Victory’s Championship winning 2017-18 campaign, Valeri surprised many footballing observers when he returned to Victory for the current A-League season – his 18th season as a professional.
Initially slated to be a stabilising presence available off the bench and as a spot-starter, the defensive midfielder has, thanks to a spate of injuries ripping through Victory, already made 20 starts across 23 appearances in all competitions in 18-19 – not sighted in only six games.
The Canberra born AIS graduate first made landfall at AAMI Park after over a decade spent playing in Italy, where he was at one point was attached to Internazionale and made appearances for SPAL, Sassuolo and Ternana.
In 2010 he played in all three of Australia’s World Cup matches at the World Cup in South Africa – going a full 90 minutes against Germany and Ghana.
Struggling with an ankle injury suffered whilst playing for the Socceroos against South Korea in 2012, Valeri struggled to find the field in 2013-14 – making just 11 appearances across the length of the season with Sassuolo and Ternana – and eventually made the move to Victory as a 29-year-old ahead of the 2014-15 season.
He then went on to enjoy one of the most glittering periods of sustained success in A-League history.
Across his 122 total appearances in all competitions for Victory since his move back down under, Valeri has lifted two A-League championship trophies, an FFA Cup, a Premier’s Plate and was in 2016-17 awarded the Victory Medal.
Handed the captain’s armband at the club in 2015, Valeri’s tenure has been marked by an impact off the field that goes close to watching the one left on it; the 52-time Socceroo has served in the maintaining of culture at Victory that has sustained the club throughout significant player turnover, periods of poor form and fan discontent.
“After much consideration, the choice for me is a happy one and something I am at peace with,” he said.
“I am excited and committed to play out the rest of the current season, and hopefully achieve success with the group, knowing this will be my last with the football club.
“It has been an incredible journey for myself and my family, spanning my time at Victory and previously to that with the Socceroos and abroad.
“When I do play my last game, it will be a time of celebration and reflection on a special career and five wonderful seasons with Melbourne Victory.”
Kevin Muscat, the man that first brought him to the club, heaped praise on his outgoing captain.
“Five years ago, the opportunity to sign Carl arose,” Muscat said.
“Within that process, I spoke to other people about him and the common themes were how respectful he was and the strong family values he holds.
“The respect he has shown this club and the way he has conducted himself has helped us develop a great culture at Melbourne Victory.
“Importantly, the way Carl has led the group has been second-to-none and I’m extremely grateful for the support he has given me as the captain and as a person.”
Victory currently sits third on the A-League table with three rounds remaining on the season, four points adrift of second-placed Sydney FC.
They will on Sunday host Central Coast Mariners in what will be their final home game of the campaign before concluding with road trips to face Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners.