Gloves are off as Mark Paston ends career
Mark Paston has not closed the door on his All Whites career but accepts he will need to find a new club if he is to play in the rest of the World Cup campaign.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper played his last game as a professional as the Wellington Phoenix lost 3-2 to Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium last night.
He will embark on a career in IT, is looking forward to spending more time with his young family and will clear his head before determining his international future.
"What I plan to do is have some time off, let my body and my mind recuperate," said Paston, who has been at the Phoenix since the club's inception in 2007.
"I need to talk to a few people, a few key parties. I've obviously talked to Ricki [All Whites coach Ricki Herbert] about things and we'll see how I go. But I can't commit at this stage. If I am going to do it, I want to make sure I do it for the right reasons."
Glen Moss will now almost certainly be first-choice for both club and country, with Jake Gleeson, Michael O'Keeffe and Scott Basalaj the up-and-comers.
But the All Whites play a two-leg World Cup qualifier in November and Paston's experience could be handy. "I'd never do it if I didn't think I could do a job, I wouldn't bother," Paston said.
"I think it's important to separate the two [club and country] because I just feel playing professionally is 10, 11 months of the year and it's five or six days a week with a huge amount of travel. It does take a toll on your body and on your mind as well.
"I felt it was time to move on from that and whether that means my All Whites career is over, I don't know at this stage. I need some time off to recharge."
Paston will be remembered for his understated personality and his heroics for the All Whites. His penalty save against Bahrain in Wellington in 2009 earned New Zealand a spot at the World Cup in South Africa.
At the tournament he etched his name into Kiwi footballing folklore by pulling off a string of memorable saves to help the All Whites finish unbeaten. But his career has been interrupted by several serious injuries and he said his body was a major factor in his decision to retire.
"Turning up to training, I get to November, December and my body starts seizing up. Guys have a bit of a laugh at training when I start warming up and I can barely walk, let alone run.
"I sort of un-seize my body and end up training all right but it gets harder every year, I suppose."
And what will Paston miss most about the professional game?
"Just that buzz you get when you make that save or you're winning football games. I can't see anywhere else in life where you can get that, so I think that side of things I'll definitely miss."
Name: Mark Paston Born: Hastings
Physical: 1.94m, 90kg
Clubs: Napier City Rovers, Wellington Olympic, Bradford, Walsall, St Johnstone, New Zealand Knights, Wellington Phoenix
Family: Wife Amy and children Jack, Benji and Charlie
The Dominion Post