End of an era as Mariners captain Vukovic announces retirement on ultimate high

Central Coast Mariners captain Danny Vukovic has announced his retirement from football the day after leading the club to an epic Grand Final triumph that secured an historic treble.

The 39-year-old confirmed this season was his last at the Mariners’ end of season celebration at Erina Fair on Sunday, ending his career on the ultimate high after being at the centre of extraordinary scenes in Gosford.

A true legend of the club, he will now complete his coaching badges as he prepares to move into the Mariners coaching staff for the 2024/25 season.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to go out. It has been so enjoyable; I have loved being a professional footballer,” Vukovic said.

“To finish it off like this, with the club where it all began in the A-League, there is nothing more fitting for me.

“I have been feeling like the time is right for a while, it has a lot to do with my family and my boys. I can be replaced as a goalkeeper, but I can’t be replaced as a father and that is what it comes down to for me.

“I’m really excited to go into the coaching world, we have two fantastic young goalkeepers in the first team and more in the younger squads, so I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Vukovic became the oldest player ever in an Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final as his side beat Melbourne Victory 3-1 in extra time on Saturday night.

What followed was special, with a record crowd at Industree Group Stadium spilling onto the pitch to celebrate with their team in a showcase of what this football club means to its community and vice versa.

The veteran goalkeeper will hang up his gloves after 22 years in professional football, beginning all the way back in 2002 with National Soccer League outfit Parramatta Power.

Vukovic’s retirement represents the end of an era; it means that for the first time ever, there will be no players who featured in the NSL still playing in the A-Leagues.

As his decorated career comes to a close, the Mariners skipper sits sixth all-time for most appearances in the Isuzu UTE A-League (337), while no goalkeeper has registered more clean sheets (103).

The four-time Socceroo won three Premierships (2008, 2017, 2024) and three Championships (2017, 2023, 2024), while only Alex Wilkinson has appeared in more Grand Finals. He also won the Australia Cup in 2015 and skippered the Mariners to AFC Cup glory this term.

Vukovic has been a near-constant in the A-Leagues, featuring for the Mariners, Wellington Phoenix, Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, while he also enjoyed success abroad during a title-winning stint with Belgian side Genk.

He retires as a true great of both the competition and Australian football.