Western Sydney Wanderers have paid tribute to Dean Heffernan following the 34-year-old defender’s retirement from professional football.
Heffernan joined the Red and Black at the start of the 2013/14 season and made 14 appearances in his final campaign, describing the experience as unforgettable.
A popular character around the club, he ended his career at Pirtek Stadium after a career that took him from the National Soccer League to stints in English League One, German Bundesliga and Chinese Super League. He also played for A-League clubs Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Heart and Perth Glory.
At Wanderers he was reunited with former Mariners teammate Michael Beauchamp. In 2006 both players transferred to Nuremberg on season-long loans.
Heffernan was a late bloomer, making his professional debut at the age of 22.
While at the Mariners he made the A-League Dream Team in 2006/07 but suffered a broken leg from a tackle by Ufuk Talay during the club's memorable 4-5 loss to Sydney FC in December 2007, ruling him out from the rest of the 2007/08 A-League season.
He earned two caps for the Socceroos and, in 2010, scored in the fifth minute of an AFC Asian Cup qualifying match against Kuwait which ended 2-2.
Reflecting on his career, Heffernan said his time at the Wanderers was like no other.
“The Wanderers was a whole new experience with the way the fans are and how the support interacts with all sides of the stadium,” he said.
“That’s what football is about and the fans were half the reason I came here - to have the opportunity to play in front of them.”
Heffernan highlighted the pride he felt at the club’s on-field achievements.
“We were a good team, we worked hard, we got through to the Grand Final and achieved our goals of getting through the Round of 16 in the Champions League. Those are things I will always remember.
“I made a lot of good friends at the Wanderers and I want to thank the players and fans for welcoming me in to the Wanderers family and I wish nothing but success for the club in the future.”