Final whistle blows on captain's career.

He began his professional football career as a teenager with NSL side Sydney United in 1989 and his 19-year journey took him to the pinnacle of his sport on stages all around the World, but the journey has come to an end for Sydney FC Captain, Tony Popovic, with the veteran defender today announcing his immediate retirement from the game.

He began his professional football career as a teenager with NSL side Sydney United in 1989 and his 19-year journey took him to the pinnacle of his sport on stages all around the World, but the journey has come to an end for Sydney FC Captain, Tony Popovic, with the veteran defender today announcing his immediate retirement from the game.

“It-s pretty simple for me, at the start of the year I said to myself if ever the day comes that I feel I-ve lost control of my destiny or my body that I would stop,” said Popovic.

“With the few injuries that I-ve had this year it got to the point where I feel that I-ve lost that control and can-t now meet the high expectations I have of myself. After the game on Friday I felt that pain coming and going throughout the match. I felt I needed to stop immediately and I think it-s the right decision.”

The former Socceroo made 59 senior appearances for his country, and was part of Australia-s historic World Cup side at Germany 2006.

After beginning his career with Sydney United the 35-year-old enjoyed stints playing at the highest level in Japan, England and Qatar before joining Sydney FC in 2007, and after 27 Hyundai A-League appearances for the Sky Blue side he has no regrets about hanging up his boots.

“I think I decided straight after the game on Friday in my own mind,” he explained. “It would have been easy to get over this hamstring strain that I-ve done again, to miss a few games and come back and just hope to get through a few more games before the season finishes but that-s not the way that I do things.”

“For me it-s always been that I-ve got to do things 100% in everything I do, whether it-s training, playing or looking after myself but now I-m not able to do that, that-s what my body-s telling me.”

Sydney CEO Stefan Kamasz paid tribute to his out-going captain, describing Popovic as a wonderful human being who has been an inspirational footballer during an outstanding career.

"His skill, professionalism, dedication and leadership qualities have been long recognised by his peers and coaches,” said Kamasz. “He will be sorely missed as a player, but fortunately for Sydney FC, Tony's influence on the team will remain as he becomes a member of John Kosmina's coaching staff."

Popovic added: “The ideal scenario would-ve been to win the league and be standing up there as captain holding the trophy, that is the ultimate way that I wanted to leave the game, but that was taken out of my hands."

“Winning the Championships is still the main goal of the club and still a goal of mine as part of the team, or part of the coaching staff now, and I want to play some part in seeing that goal achieved.”

“This journey-s come to an end, a very happy one, many great memories, no regrets, and now it-s the start of a new journey in the coaching world.”