Perth Glory striker Brendon Santalab has announced that he intends to retire from professional football at the end of the current Hyundai A-League campaign.
The 36-year-old has enjoyed an illustrious, 20-year senior career which has included spells in Belgium, Hungary and China, as well as a highly-successful five-year stint at Western Sydney Wanderers during which he helped the red-and-blacks become the first Australian team to win the Asian Champions League.
The man from Wollongong, however, feels that another major career highlight could still be yet to come.
“I feel it is the right time,” he said.
“It’s been a fantastic year and the best part is that I have the biggest six weeks of my career coming up right now.
“I’ve waited 20 years to win a Premiership and a Grand Final and it would mean a lot to me to lift a couple of trophies at this stage of my career.
“There have been many top memories along the way, but this next six weeks could see another top memory being created that would be right up there with my Asian Champions League winners’ medal.
“To go out on a high is something that I’ve always wanted to do.
“I’m fortunate enough to be in what is an incredible squad, not only as footballers but also as people.
“It’s a privilege to play in this team and within the culture that has been created at the club this year and it will be an honour to end my career as part of this group.
“There are many, many people that I’d like to thank, one of whom is Tony Popovic who has been such an influence on the latter part of my career.
“The belief and confidence that 'Popa' instilled in me enabled me to achieve many great things while working together with him.
“He is not only a fantastic coach, but an incredible motivator and mentor.
“It’s been an amazing journey, especially over the last five years when I’ve been constantly learning and improving every day.”
Popovic, meanwhile, was similarly glowing in his praise of Santalab, both as a player and as a person.
“On the field he’s always been fiery, a winner and someone who plays on the edge,” he said.
“He has that fire in his belly and I’m sure many a defender has found it very tough to mark Brendon over the years.
“Whenever he’s crossed that white line, I’ve always felt that he’s someone I can rely on, someone who will put the team first and he always walks off having given everything that he’s got.
“Off the field, he’ll do anything for anyone. He does so much charity work and all the kids love him.
“When we were at Wanderers, even my own boys would look up to him and loved him.
“That’s the kind of character Brendon is.”
Santalab has made 13 appearances for Glory so far this term and opened his account for the club in the Round 12 win over one of his former sides, Sydney FC.
In total, to date, he has played 133 Hyundai A-League games and scored 39 goals.