Topor-Stanley: The most difficult season of my career

Nikolai Topor-Stanley says the 2014-15 campaign has been the most difficult and testing season of his career.

Topor-Stanley, 30, won Western Sydney Wanderers’ Player of the Year Award earlier this week after a long season which begun in August and has included 41 games.

The defender himself played more than 3,000 minutes during the Wanderers’ season, which included crazy highs and lows.

The Wanderers scaled the heights of winning the 2014 AFC Champions League and the lows of narrowly avoiding the A-League wooden spoon.

Along the way, the squad spent endless hours on planes and in airport terminals, including trips to Morocco, Saudi Arabia, South Korea (twice), Japan and China.

Topor-Stanley has played A-League football since 2006,and said nothing compared to this season.

“It’s definitely been the most difficult and testing season of my whole career, not just physically but mentally,” Topor-Stanley told FourFourTwo.

“It’s difficult to, at the best of times, get yourself up for game after game after game. But when you’re not getting the right results – that’s when you’re really tested.

“It’s been difficult. We’ve been put through the ringer and back and we didn’t do well (in the A-League).

“You can point to a number of factors why, but I think the players, we know when it counted we didn’t perform as well as we could have.

“We still made football history, even though it seems a long time ago, we can still walk with our heads held high.”

When reflecting on Wanderers’ long season, Topor-Stanley said it would never be repeated and believed the squad had got through, but not unscathed.

“I don’t think any team will go through what we had to go through, in terms of scheduling, ever again,” he said.

“It was so mentally testing. We’ve got through to the other end, not unscathed but still standing.

“We’re still getting thousands of people to our games, we’ve still got thousands of supporters who come to every game rain, hail or shine and that’s the positive.”

The former Sydney FC, Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets man felt the club could still progress in the AFC Champions League despite sitting bottom of their group ahead of their final clash with Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday (9pm AEST).

Wanderers must win in Guangzhou and hope the other game finishes as a draw to progress.

If they do progress, their season will be extended by a further two games with round-of-16 matches occurring later in May, taking the season tally to 44 games.

Despite that, Topor-Stanley wouldn’t allow himself to begin thinking about a break.

“We’re still concentrating on Champions League, even though we need a bit of luck, we feel we can get through,” Topor-Stanley.

He added the club’s history with 2014 ACL quarter-final opponents Evergrande was irrelevant.