APIA Leichhardt goalkeeper Ivan Necevski believes he’s still got plenty left in the tank as he eyes off more silverware with APIA Leichhardt in 2023.
At 43 years old, Necevski is a veteran in the National Premier Leagues NSW competition. He’s still relied upon by APIA, starting all but one game for the side in the competition so far this season.
With most players his age having already retired and begun transitioning into other facets of the game, Necevski said he just can’t give playing up. However, wind back seven years the former Sydney FC goalkeeper was contemplating giving it away at the age of 36.
The shot-stopper originally signed for APIA as an injury replacement and only intended to finish that year before hanging up the gloves.
The culture and consistent success of the National Soccer League giant during his time there has kept him coming back season after season.
“It’s a running joke at APIA that every year I seem to end up coming back,” he said.
“I don’t think I can get enough at the moment.
“When I first went there, they were really welcoming with me coming into the side.
“The longer the games went on, the more successful we were at APIA, and I was enjoying it. They asked me to stay on, and I stayed on, and it’s been fantastic.”
There is no end in sight according to Necevski, but he said he’ll know when his time playing the game is up. He said taking care of his body has been essential in the longevity of his career.
“I try to keep myself mentally and physically in good condition, staying active and watching what I eat,” he said.
“I’ve always said to the staff and the club that I’ll know when my body’s not up to fulfilling my role in the team.
“As long as the club feels I’m able to do a job for the team to be successful and win games, I’m happy to keep coming back.”
Ex-Sydney Olympic and English league goalkeeper Paul Henderson also played until the age of 43 finishing up in the NPL NSW in 2019. However, he had taken up more of a coaching role by that stage not regularly featuring in the starting team. Necevski explained in contrast, to be playing regularly at a high level in his 40s is something he’s very proud of.
A key motivator for Necevski to keep playing is the presence of his family at matches, especially his children. He wants to keep playing as long as he can, so they have the memory of watching their father play football.
Necevski is as eager as ever to claim titles with APIA as the side sit second with a chance to move into top spot after this weekend. They are currently two points behind Rockdale Ilinden – a team they battered 6-0 back in round two but have since turned the corner and have yet to lose since then.
He believes that despite a couple of ‘unlucky’ draws so far, the side are right on track to take out the title this season.
“We’re still the only undefeated team,” he stated.
“We pride ourselves on being undefeated and keeping clean sheets.
“We’re only a third of the way through the season and to be honest, if it was any team we would prefer to be in front of us, it would be Rockdale because we’ve had the wood over the past five or six years. The scorelines speak for themselves.”
APIA have a tough match against Blacktown City this weekend in the NPL NSW who knocked the side out of the competition’s finals series in 2022, going on to take out the title.
Feature by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_