A major Hyundai A-League milestone is set to fall in the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season.
Andrew Durante will become the most capped player in the history of the competition.
The Wellington Phoenix skipper has now played 268 Hyundai A-League games (228 for Wellington and 40 for Newcastle) and is already ahead of every other outfield player in terms of total appearances.
The only man ahead is goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who played his 278th game in the 2016/17 Grand Final.
With “Vuka” now departed to play for Genk in Belgium, the way is clear for Durante to overtake his former team-mate and claim top spot.
Never has a nickname been more fitting.
The man universally known as “Dura” has showed incredible resilience and consistency during his nine seasons in Wellington.
Consider this: Since Durante arrived ahead of the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League season, the Phoenix have played 247 games.
The skipper has missed just 19 of those.
In one particularly memorable period, Durante played 76 hours of consecutive football (50 straight matches plus a couple of periods of extra-time in the 2009/10 finals) during which time he wasn’t substituted, injured, suspended, sent off or dropped.
THE MILESTONE MATCH
International commitments with New Zealand will likely rule Durante out of his side’s first game of the 2017/18 season, as well as the round six clash against Perth Glory.
Therefore, barring injury or suspension, the evergreen defender will draw level with Vukovic two days before Christmas when the Phoenix host Sydney FC in round 12.
He’ll then claim the record for himself when Wellington visit Gosford to play the Mariners on New Year’s Eve.
ON HIS TAIL
Behind Durante, there are a number of still active players with impressive numbers.
Melbourne City goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic is third on the list with 253 games, followed by Adelaide United defender Tarek Elrich (243), Melbourne Victory stalwart Leigh Broxham (237) and returning Newcastle Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley (236).