Australia Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard hangs up his A-League boots after 16 years

12:05  11 june  2021
12:05  11 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Nigel Boogaard wearing a blue shirt: Nigel Boogaard has been part of the A-league since day one. (ABC Newcastle: Bindi Bryce) © Provided by ABC NEWS Nigel Boogaard has been part of the A-league since day one. (ABC Newcastle: Bindi Bryce)

One of the A-league's last foundation players has called time on a long career spanning three clubs and 16 seasons.

Nigel Boogaard was born and bred in the Hunter and started his football journey at the Newcastle Breakers before they were rebranded as the Jets.

"I think if you said to me as a 10-year-old at the fence at Breakers stadium — when you're older you'll have a career playing football spanning as long as it does — I probably would've laughed at you," he said.

"I've been a fan of this club, I always have and always will be."

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Boogaard developed into a dependable centre back at the Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, before coming back to Newcastle in 2015.

He said he was proud of the trophies he had won and the opportunities he had to represent Australia at a junior level.

But Boogaard struggled to hold back the tears as he reflected on his final years representing his hometown club.

"I enjoyed my time, but nothing beats coming back here," he said.

'Football's changed'

Boogaard made his professional debut with the Central Coast Mariners as a teenager in 2005, the same year the national competition was launched.

Before then, there were few opportunities to play soccer for a living in Australia.

"When we were younger, we probably never really looked at it as a genuine career path in this country and now it is," he said.

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"The football's changed, the professionalism's changed, and the standards have changed."

In the final years of his career, Boogaard captained his beloved Jets and guided the team to a home grand final.

He has helped the squad through a rocky period in its history, with the club losing its owners and two coaches in the past 18 months.

"I hope the club can get back to being a powerhouse. It is a bit of a sleeping giant," Boogaard said.

"Hopefully in the future with ownership and the way we're moving forward the right decisions can be made to make this club a top-four contender year-in year-out."

New talent emerges at the Jets

Boogaard played his final game last night, as the Jets defeated premiers Melbourne City 2–1, and said "it was nice to finish off that way".

Along with the captain's retirement, a stellar performance by the team's youngest player, Archie Goodwin, should make it a memorable game for loyal Jets fans.

The local 16-year-old, who is balancing his training with his year 11 studies, scored his first goal with a perfectly placed long-range strike in the first half.

"I don't look at age," said outgoing coach Craig Deans, who had no hesitation about giving Goodwin more game time.

"Firstly and foremostly you have to be good enough, and he's been good enough."

After narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon, and losing Craig Deans and Nigel Boogaard, there will be plenty of interest in how the Jets rebuild for the next A-league season.

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