He’s enjoyed a professional playing career spanning some 19 years, but today, Mile Sterjovski will turn out for his final regular season home match in the Hyundai A-League.
Mile’s journey with both club and country has taken him around the globe countless times, and while he’s scaled the lofty heights of the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, Europa League and AFC Champions League, it is testament to the man that he’s never forgotten, nor neglected, his roots. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about the “boy from the ‘Gong”, and, put simply, Mile ought to go down in Australian football history not only as a member of its Golden Generation, but as one of its best blokes. Here’s what just a few of the people who love Mile have to say about the attacker who, even at 34, still possesses the skills and smarts to rattle defenders many years his junior! From everyone at the Mariners, Sterj, thanks for two great seasons and good luck and good fortune in your retirement! – @BennyONeill
Sharon Sterjovski (Wife)
“Our football life has been nothing short of a crazy roller coaster ride but one that we have come out of with a lifetime of memories. I have seen what you have done for your career, celebrated your achievements with you, and felt for you in the tougher times. You chased the goals you set for yourself with determination, but never forgetting your integrity. You deserve your success and I am proud of you not only as a player, but also as a person and mostly...as my husband. Mile, thank you for taking me on this journey with you, I will miss seeing ‘the best legs in football’ run onto the field.”
Luka, Sonny & Lilly Sterjovski (Children)
Daddy, we have travelled to lots of places to see you play and to us, there is no better player than you. We will miss seeing you play and we are very proud of you. It’s the best thing in the world to have you as a dad. You are more than just a normal dad, you are the best dad ever. We hope that we can be just like you when we grow up. Love Luka, Sonny and Lilly.”
Phil Moss (Current Coach – Central Coast Mariners)
“For so long Mile Sterjovski has been a key player in Australian football, but at some point in every career the curtain must come down. In true Mile fashion, he decided to draw a close on his playing days on his terms, announcing his retirement for the end of this season earlier this year with a simple post on Twitter. For a player who has achieved so much, it is testament that he made the decision to hang up his boots in such an understated fashion – but that there tells you what sort of a man Mile is.
Mile – thank you for your professionalism on and off the pitch over the past two years with us. You’ve been a key man for us since mid 2012, and the players and staff both in the football department and in the office think the world of you. We hope we can help you – and you can help us – go out with one last bang!”
Graham Arnold (Former Coach - Socceroos & Central Coast Mariners)
“What a career, what a player, what a great pro and what a great guy! One of my all time favorite Socceroos. One that every time he played he might not of got the headlines, but I can't ever recall him letting his team mates or country down. That was the most important thing to Mile.
After a player of his calibre had achieved what he had on a personal level, at his age coming to the Mariners may have been called a risk. For me he was a great signing not only for the team, but for all the youngsters to see and learn what it takes to be a great pro. Mile is a real positive influence in the dressing room and he’s had a big influence on the group.
Mile, thanks for your efforts, thanks for the good times and memories. Now it’s time for a new chapter in your life and let's hope that you are not lost to football and especially to the Mariners.Congratulations and good luck in your last regular season match at Central Coast Stadium. Make that cannon go off!”
Frank Farina (Former Coach – Socceroos)
“Mile was a fantastic professional and a great guy both on and off the field. He’s the type of player you always wanted in your team and I always found him a pleasure to work with during my time with the national set up. He’s been a great servant for football in this country and he deserves all the praise he has received. I’m pleased for how his career has panned out and I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Ray Gatt (The Australian journalist)
“Mile Sterjovski epitomises all that is good about our wonderful game. He has been a fantastic servant to club and international football both on and off the field and his contribution is immeasurable. Mile is one of the true gentlemen of the code in this country and I can think of no better role model for the kids who play the game. It says a lot when you don’t hear a single, bad word spoken about him. He deserves every accolade that comes his way and it is pleasing to know he will still contribute to the sport through his coaching schools. All the best for the future, Mile!”
Mat Ryan (Former team mate at Central Coast Mariners)
“It was an absolute privilege and pleasure to have been able to have played alongside Mile. So much so that I know I have met a life-long friend in him. Behind the great footballer the world and Australia has come to know and love is an even better man of the utmost integrity. Mile is always willing to help others and put other people's problems before his own. Still to this day I feel so much joy in watching him play, combining with some of my best mates to either set them up or bang it in himself. As the curtain draws near on your illustrious career I just want to say a massive congratulations on all the success and achievements over the years. Also thank you for all the memories, advice and success you have given me. I look forward to sharing my football experience with you for years to come. Good luck with the remainder of the season. Your story deserves a happy ending!