Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante will make his 200th Hyundai A-League appearance when he takes the field against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Saturday evening.
Durante, 32, joined the Phoenix in 2008 after playing 40 times for the Newcastle Jets and will be playing his 160th game for the Wellington club on Saturday.
After agreeing to join the Phoenix Durante won the Johnny Warren medal for man of the match in Newcastle’s 2007 Grand Final victory and there were fears among some in Wellington that the defender may change his mind.
Fortunately Durante is a man of his word and he smiled when thinking back to that time.
“Yeh, Tony Pignata (then chief executive of the Phoenix) rang me and asked if I was still coming but there was never a chance I would change my mind,” Durante said.
“There have been a few ups and downs since but I have loved my time at the club and living in Wellington.
“I am really proud to have made it to 200 appearances because it isn’t easy given the nature of the A-League.
“It has taken me nine years to reach the milestone and Chris Greenacre was joking with me the other day that he could have almost reached 200 in a couple of years in England.”
Durante went close to another Grand Final appearance with the Phoenix when they reached the preliminary final only to lose out to Sydney FC in controversial circumstances.
Now he believes his team is on the right track to reach the finals and kick on this season.
“We are playing some good football and last week we kept a clean sheet for the first time this season so there is no reason we can’t get in the finals.
“Making the finals is the minimum we are aiming for this season and once that is achieved we will look to keep going.”
Saturday’s game and the following week’s against table-topping Perth Glory at NIB Stadium are important games for the Phoenix and despite missing key players through international duty and injuries Durante is confident points can be picked up on the 10-day road trip.