Sydney Olympic will be without one of its most beloved sons in 2024 after Will Angel announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2023 season.
Angel’s place as one of the club’s all-time greats was sealed when he became just the sixth player in Olympic history to reach 250 appearances a matter of weeks ago.
Starting his youth career with Olympic as an 11-year-old in 2000, Angel spent the majority of his younger years with the club before a significant injury altered his career path.
At the age of 18, Angel moved to Bankstown City Lions where he made his first grade debut before moving on with a stint at the Newcastle Jets youth system.
Angel’s close ties to Olympic and club legend Peter Tsekenis saw him eventually move back to the club where he would spend the rest of his senior carer.
Retiring with two NPL NSW Men’s Championships, three premierships and three notable runs in the Australia Cup, Angel has become synonymous with Olympic’s number seven shirt.
Reflecting upon his decision to hang the boots up, Angel admitted his mind was made up after reaching 250 games but had an inkling prior to this season that 2023 would be his last.
“It was a combination of a few things, I’d had a couple of injuries in the last few years, but work has been getting busier, the biggest thing for me was I just wanted to hit 250 games for Olympic,” Angel said.
“That was the last box I wanted to tick before I re-evaluated things with football, I hit 250 this year and thought that’s it… I thought there’s not much more to do besides winning the Australia Cup.
“I kind of knew in the back of my mind this was going to be my last year, I was still taking it game by game, to be honest, but when I hit that 250, I knew I was done.
Angel revealed his decision was made easier after fellow veteran Hagi Gligor announced he would too be retiring at the end of the season.
“I spoke to Hagi and told him what was on my mind, it’s nice to be retiring with a good friend and someone that I’ve been playing with for years, he was kind of the first one I opened up to about retiring,” Angel added.
After a career of memorable moments, becoming the sixth player in Olympic history to hit 250 games was something Angel will always hold close to his heart.
“That was definitely the cherry on top, being at Olympic for 20 years, it’s not just about the trophies it’s more the reception I’ve had from the fans,” Angel continued.
“Some of the messages and comments I’ve seen makes me realise that it’s not just about walking away with all the great stats, it’s people thinking you’re a good person.
“I want to walk away as one of the good guys at Sydney Olympic and the NPL, that’s probably the cherry on top.
“I was a ball boy in my youth that’s what makes it special, some of the players that I walked out with became teammates of mine, some of them became my coaches and friends now, it’s pretty surreal now.
“My final game for Olympic will be at Belmore, it’s meant to be… it’s nice to be retiring alongside Hagi, he’s a great guy as well.
“This week I’m going to be relaxed and I’m really happy that I get to retire with a good friend in Hagi.”
By NPL NSW Men’s Reporter Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti