Brett Emerton says Australia's dramatic qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup was the undoubted highlight of his 18-year career.
Saturday's A-League clash against Central Coast Mariners will be worn-out Sydney FC veteran Emerton's last ever match, with the third-highest capped Australia international confirming his retirement on Thursday.
John Aloisi's winning penalty in Sydney in 2005 is the most treasured moment for this country's football fans.
For Emerton, influential in both qualification legs against Uruguay, it is no different.
"To represent your country is something very special and hard to describe to other people. To qualify for the biggest tournament in the world and go there ... was a real honour," Emerton said on Thursday.
"I think I've made the right decisions throughout my career. It's gone very smoothly. To look back and see what I've been able to achieve, I'm very proud of myself.
"It's been an amazing ride. It's come to an end and now it's time to look forward to a new chapter in life."
Emerton's journey started in the National Soccer League with Sydney Olympic in 1996, before he progressed to the Netherlands with Eredivisie side Feyernoord.
He then signed for EPL side Blackburn in 2003, where he made 247 appearances for the Rovers, before joining Sydney FC amid much hoopla in 2011.
But persistent back problems meant Emerton could not meet the marquee-man expectations in Australia and he has managed just nine appearances this season.
The death knell came when the 34-year-old was taken off early in the second half of Sydney FC's loss to Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend.
"Injuries ... got the better of me in the end. It was the right time for myself and for the club to part ways in the right way," Emerton said.
"The decision to retire from football wasn't easy. It's been my life for almost 20 years now and means the world to me.
"It was my decision and one I feel very comfortable with.
"I'd like to thank Sydney FC for giving me the opportunity to come back to Australia and give to a game in this country that has given so much to me.
"Hopefully I've contributed to the A-League's growth. It's a fantastic competition and I look forward to watching on from the stands."
Only Mark Schwarzer (109 appearances) and current captain Lucas Neill (96) have more caps for the Socceroos than Emerton (94), who last played for his country in December 2012.comments