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Feb 16, 2011   |  9:11PM AET

Muscat set to hang up boots

Muscat set to hang up boots

Melbourne Victory are set to lose their foundation captain and arguably their greatest-ever player with dual championship winning captain Kevin Muscat to retire in June.

Melbourne Victory are set to lose their foundation captain and arguably their greatest-ever player with dual championship winning captain Kevin Muscat to retire in June.

An emotional Muscat paid tribute to the club, his team-mates and his family in announcing he would draw a close to his playing career after his participation in the Asian Champions League.

The 37-year-old, who represented his country 51 times, described his playing career as a ‘great journey’ which has taken him from the western suburbs of Melbourne, ‘around the world twice over.’

“There has been a lot of consultation and deliberation. I’ve come to the conclusion it was time to go and I will be doing that at the completion of the Champions League,” he said.

Muscat said he had repeatedly asked himself over the past two years if it was time to retire and when he began to feel he couldn-t maintain his usual high standards, he decided it was time.

“I think the one word when I kept thinking about, I kept recalling how frustrated I’ve become. When I say frustration, it was about turning up to training and not being able to do what I’ve asked of other people throughout my career, to put in and give 100 percent,” he said.

“I’ve been constantly asking myself questions after the games and after training. In the last three to four months, a lot of the answers have been no. The negative side of things has built up to the frustration of not being able to do what I asked my teammates to do,” he said.

Muscat is adamant he leaves the club in excellent shape, and anointed Adrian Leijer as his replacement as captain, beginning with the ACL, where Muscat will take the field for the first time without the armband.

“Addressing the players yesterday, I’ve asked Adrian that I want him to lead the team through the ACL campaign for his own progress. I think he’s done an outstanding job in the past few weeks and I don-t see any reason why he shouldn-t stay as captain,” he said.

Coach Ernie Merrick said Muscat’s legacy as a leader of the club will be about much more than what he did as a player on the field.

“You can-t replace Kevin. But Kevin has been able to influence the future leadership of the club. He’s helped a lot of these boys. Adrian will take over his captaincy, Roddy Vargas, Archie (Thompson) Grant (Brebner). He has strongly influenced their attitude and for 21 years, Kevin has not only been a great footballer, but he’s been a winner,” Merrick said.

“You just have to look at his resume, the number of things he’s won and that’s rubbed off at the players and several leaders have emerged. None of them will be exactly like Kevin Muscat, but in their own way, they-ll be leaders on the field.”

Muscat’s journey as a professional began under current coach Ernie Merrick at Sunshine George Cross, before he moved to Heidelberg United, South Melbourne and then overseas.

He started his career in the UK with Crystal Palace, became a club legend at Wolves before spending a season at Rangers in Scotland, where they won the treble. He then played for Millwall in the English Championship before returning for the Victory, where he’s been if not the most influential, the most controversial player in the Hyundai A-League.

Muscat said he doesn-t regret his aggressive approach to the game, only the instances where he crossed the line.

“In terms of how I am going to be remembered, I understand I’ve had my critics throughout my career. I consider myself to have had a successful career,” he said.

“What brought me that career was that playing on the edge and that winning attitude. For that I’m not going to apologise, I don-t regret it. What I will say, that in trying to achieve more success, I’ve got to admit that I have erred. There are situations and times that I do regret.”

“But not for a moment am I going to sit back and think maybe I should have changed things. I am who I am and I suppose that’s the way I’ll be forever.”

Muscat will assume assistant coaching responsibilities full time when he retires, with current coach Merrick saying there was no doubt Muscat would be a successful in football management.