There will be a few teary-eyed players, spectators and family members this Sunday when Sydney United 58 entertain Manly United at their spiritual ground at Edensor Park when club stalwart and well known ‘nice guy’ Petar Markovic calls full-time on his football career.
Markovic has lived and breathed United 58 ever since he was a youngster and was a keen fan belting out “Croatia, Croatia” during the club’s National Soccer League days before signing as a youth prospect working his way up to senior football where he played in Australia’s elite competition with his much loved club.
An emotional Markovic knew that the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season was to be his last.
“After 22 years of defending the badge of the world’s greatest football club, it is difficult to say goodbye as a footballer.
“It was not an easy decision, but it feels like the right one.
“Juggling a full time job, starting my football academy AMPM FOOTBALL with my brother Ante and coaching the Sydney United SAP under 9s team, it all got a bit too much for me before first grade training.
“Although I thoroughly enjoyed it and gave it my all, I now get a lot more joy coaching and watching the kids develop.
“Sydney United gave me so much in life.
“Now is the time to give something back and help our juniors become better footballers.”
The 36-year-old has seen and experienced many glorious moments as both a fan and player at United 58 but it was the first time he wore the famous red jersey in the National Soccer League that stood out as his fondest memory.
“While I have experienced many memorable moments during my time, I’ll never forget making my first grade debut at 18 years of age in the NSL, something I dreamt of after Jure Cindric presented me with my very first Sydney Croatia jersey at the age of 10.
“I’ll also cherish my memories with talented players and coaches from then on, way too many to list so I’d rather not mention in case I miss some important people.”
Silverware was the norm at United 58 and the ever reliable defender stated that the famous 2006 NSW Premier League Grand Final victory by far stood out as one of his finest moments.
“I have won many trophies with the club, but winning the 2006 grand final was by far the most special.
“Having experienced that with long time club servant Sime Krslovic, and many players who I grew up with from a young age at the club, is something we all hold close to our hearts.
Then there was his match up with one of the world’s best footballers, namely Carlito (Carlos) Tevez during the club’s trip to China in 2017.
“One other memorable moment I have to mention is the China trip in 2017 against Argentine star Carlos Tevez and Shanghai Shenua.
“I’ve been a part of many away trips, but this can never be beaten with stories that will live on forever.”
Asked who he wanted to thank on his long and fruitful journey as a footballer his parents were number one, but also made a special mention to the Sydney United Supporters who stood by him in the good and bad times.
“I would like to thank my beautiful parents who sacrificed many hours in the early years driving me to and from the playing fields and supporting me throughout this journey, my family and friends, all the coaches who helped me along the way and lastly, the SUS (Sydney United Supporters) – the best supporters in the world without a doubt!
“During this time we have celebrated, suffered, laughed and cried together.
“I have always felt supported and loved both during the good times and the bad.
“You guys have always been our 12th man and supported us no matter what.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
“A special mention has to go out to Ray Gerrie.
“I know he’d be reading this waiting for his name to pop up!
“He deserves much praise.
“He loves the club as much as I do, looked after us players every night of the week, mentoring, cooking, washing, but most importantly, being a dear friend.”
Away from the NPL, Markovic will have one more match to get through should his side not qualify for the NPL NSW Men’s Finals Series and that’s the Round of 16 FFA Cup clash against the Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday August 28th – a game he will no doubt thrive on in ensuring he played yet another pivotal role in historic club’s night of nights.
Petar Markovic is one of those players that truly epitomizes what a true footballer is.
As it should be, Markovic will always live, breathe and love his adored club Sydney United 58 or the way he has always called it, ‘Sydney Croatia’.