Long-time Phoenix defender Louis Fenton has decided to call time on his professional football career, signing off after nine seasons at the Wellington club.
Fenton announced Friday he was hanging up his boots for good after more than 150 games for the Phoenix; only Andrew Durante, Vince Lia, Manny Muscat and Ben Sigmund having played more.
The 29-year-old said the last two seasons in which the Phoenix had to base themselves in Australia due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as his numerous shoulder injuries, had taken a tole on him mentally and it was time to call it a day.
"It's been on my mind the last two years," Fenton said.
"Being away from my family and my partner has made me think about life after football.
"I've found the last two years mentally draining but I'm excited for what's next."
The former All White plans to move to Brisbane to finish his degree in property development and get some work experience there before returning to Wellington.
"Maybe 29 is young to be retiring but I feel like in my career I've been through a lot. A lot of injuries and a lot of ups and downs.
"I feel like I'm going out at a great time while my body's in decent condition."
Fenton said he didn't think too much about how his football career could've panned out had it not been for his injuries, instead saying they were part of his story.
"They've made me tougher mentally and it's all part of the experience. You have a lot of lows but that makes the highs even better."
Fenton added he'd now happily shift to being a Phoenix fan.
"Probably the highlights are playing in front of friends and family and the people I've met along the way. I've been lucky enough to make friends for life. I know that's cliché but it's true," he said.
"At the moment I've got no interest in playing at any level. I've given all of my boots away so I'm not playing again anytime soon.
"I don't want to get involved in coaching or anything. I just want to support the club."
Coach Ufuk Talay congratulated Fenton on his impact on the club.
"I love Louis because first and foremost he's a top, top person," Talay said. "He's a great character and I always know what I'm going to get from Louis. He'll always run through a brick wall for the team.
"That's something that coaches love to have. A player that's willing to give everything for the team to get the outcome that they need. That's at times sacrificing your body and that's the person Louis is."