Harry Kewell signs off on career, with a defeat

BEN MCKAY
Last updated 01:11 13/04/2014
Harry Kewell
Getty Images
CAREER OVER: Harry Kewell is carried off the pitch by Melbourne Heart team-mates after the final match of his 19-year professional career.

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The celebrations will be long in Western Sydney, but not for one of their favourite sons.

Harry Kewell, who grew up kicking a football around Sydney's suburban parks, fought valiantly in his final match after 19 years as a professional footballer.

His career has many fairy-tale moments - two World Cups with the Socceroos, a Premier League move, and a Champions League and FA Cup medal amongst them - but his final game would not be one.

Western Sydney Wanders scored twice in the final ten minutes to earn themselves a 3-2 last-round victory, and the crucial second place on the final A-League standings that comes with it.

The game had all the dramas of Kewell's long career - perhaps without the injuries.

Were this a mid-season match, Jarred Gillett's refereeing, Orlando Engelaar's bullet like goal for the Heart or the field-entering celebrations from the Wanderers bench might have captured headlines.

But this was Kewell's night and the Wanderers' joy was for another day.

His performance was selfless - winning headers all night and playing for the team rather than himself.

Two pieces of magic within five first-half minutes reminded all of his ability.

First, with a ball pinged to his feet in midfield, Kewell opted to dummy rather than trap - playing Mate Dugandzic into a one-on-one chance that no-one else saw.

Then despite playing as a centre forward, Kewell reacquainted himself with the left midfield position he played so many times in the Premier League a decade ago.

Winning a challenge on the flank, he set off down the wing and arced a beautiful cross behind the Wanderers defence.

His assist shortly after showed his quick thinking again - winning a foul and playing in Engelaar who was good enough to finish from 25 metres.

Kewell could have got on the scoresheet but for a wonderful Ante Covic save from his volley. The 35-year-old said it would cost him the chance to party with him on Saturday night.

Instead, he'll be joined by Engelaar and co - as long as the 200cm Dutchman doesn't repeat his goal celebrations.

"He was running towards me and when you see a giant like that running, you're thinking please don't jump on me," Kewell said.

"It looked awkward so I just jumped on him."

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