Sydney legend McFlynn announces his retirement

Sydney FC legend Terry McFlynn has announced his retirement signalling the end of an era for the club.

The former skipper is the last inaugural player for the harbour-siders and the one constant in an outfit known for its chronic instability.

A highlight of his A-League career was standing in for injured captain Steve Corica in Sydney’s Grand Final triumph over arch rivals Melbourne Victory on their own turf in 2010.

Talks are underway to keep McFlynn at the club once his playing career had ended with more details to be released in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Sydney plan to honour the central midfielder's contribution to the club by retiring the number 15 shirt for  next season. He and his family will be presented to the crowd with a guard of honour before kick off against Perth Glory on Sunday followed by a lap of honour. 

A flag bearing his image and name will be unveiled in the Sydney FC Walk Of Fame, while members and fans will be able to leave their tributes to the Sky Blues’ longest serving player in the Allianz Stadium precinct or via social media using #ThanksTerry15.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Sydney FC for nine seasons and I have felt immense pride every time I have pulled on the Sky Blue shirt,” McFlynn said.

“I have had some fantastic times and been part of some incredible moments in Sydney FC’s history which I will never forget, and I would like to thank everyone at the club for giving me the opportunity to experience them.

“The support of the members and fans, particularly The Cove, to me and my family over the last nine years has been fantastic and we would like to thank everyone who has supported us during that time.

“Sydney FC will always have a special place in my heart and I’ve made lots of lifelong friends both on and off the field through this great club.  I’ll always be thankful to the club for that opportunity.”

Chairman Scott Barlow paid tribute to McFlynn's record-breaking allegiance to the Sky Blues, his "selfless dedication" to the club and reputation as a "true gentleman" of the game and a "natural leader".

“We want Terry to stay at Sydney FC and start the next chapter of his career here," he said.

"In the right role we believe Terry can continue to make a very positive contribution to the club."

To many Sky Blues fans the tough-tackling Northern Irishman, who became an Australian, is Sydney FC. Alongside the likes of Corica and Mark Rudan he remains one of the titans in the club’s fledgling story.

But injuries cruelled the last couple of seasons for the veteran and have finally ended the professional career of one of the A-League’s big personalities.

The midfield enforcer - who landed the occasional and spectacular long-range missile - made more than 178 appearances for the club, lasted through seven coaches and scored seven goals after being salvaged from Morecambe in the English lower leagues.

He represented Northern Ireland at every age level but never earned a senior cap.

Growing up in Swatragh in Londonderry he played Gaelic football for the first sixteen years of his life before signing with Queens Park Rangers in 1996 as an apprentice.

From there followed Woking, Margate and Morcambe before, in 2005, he heeded the advice of a former teammate and headed to Australia where the new A-league was kicking off to great fanfare.

The 33-year-old was intensely loyal to the club that resurrected his footballing career and gave him the opportunity to play alongside the likes of Dwight Yorke, Juninho, Benito Carbone, Brett Emerton and most recently Alessandro Del Piero.

In a league known for players who constantly swap colours he was a rarity – a one club man.

He reached a low point last season when he was singled out by some fans for Sydney’s poor start to the campaign, but his commitment to the shirt was never in doubt.

And for the most part he enjoyed a special relationship with The Cove – a bond forged in his first season when his aunt and uncle were tragically killed in a car crash.

Fans unfurled a banner that read:  “Terry, in times of need the Cove is with you.”

From then on he was hooked.

His retirement announcement comes as Sydney looks to have all but wrapped up a finals berth with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Wellington Phoenix on the weekend.

McFlynn's last game for the Sky Blues was the Australia Day 5-0 mauling of Victory.

And with just the one game remaining in the regular season, Sydney have an opportunity to farewell him in style. Ever the club man, the veteran will want them to do it by banking another three points.

Sydney coach Frank Farina praised McFlynn’s extraordinary attitude and work ethic.

“Terry has always put this club first before himself and commands the utmost respect of everyone he has worked and played with," Farina said.

“He is the ultimate professional and will always have a special place in the history of this club.”

Fellow foundation player and double Sydney FC championship winner Corica added that McFlynn had seen the club throught the "good times and the bad".

“Throughout it all he has always shown an impeccable character and has been, and will continue to be a fantastic ambassador for the club,” he said.

According to club folklore McFlynn bleeds blue but he sensed in 2012 that his career with the harbour-siders was drawing to a close, noting that promising young midfielder Hagi Gligor was only one when he was starting out in the game.

“It came home a little bit then that I had a few kilometres on the clock – there was a bit of a joke that some of my clothes were older than Hagi,” McFlynn told FourFourTwo at the time.

More recently he has been studying a Masters in Coach Education with aspirations to work in player development.

“I’ve been a fulltime footballer since the age of 15 – it’s all I know – so to say I’ll move into something else is probably unrealistic,” he said.