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By ESPN Staff

Mariners defender Zwaanswijk to retire

Veteran Central Coast Mariners defender Patrick Zwaanswijk has announced his retirement to step into a coaching position with the A-League champions.

The 38-year-old Dutchman will finish his three-season playing career with the club after their Asian Champions League ACL) round-of-16 tie against Chinese heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande later this month.

Zwaanswijk scored the first goal in the Mariners' 2-0 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League grand final last month.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold praised Zwaanswijk's contribution after signing from Dutch club NAC Breda in 2010.

"When we signed Patrick, he was 35 and more than a fair share of eyebrows were raised about him joining us," Arnold said.

"But he has proven his quality ... and his leadership qualities and ability to help other players get the best out of themselves cannot be doubted."

Zwaanswijk will step into the role of head of youth and community football at the club for the next three years, which includes taking over from John McLafferty as National Youth League coach.

The new challenge of mentoring the club's talented youngsters is one Zwaanswijk is looking forward to.

"This is a great opportunity for me, so that made it a little bit easier for me to finish my career," said Zwaanswijk.

"It's time to step out of the way to give (Mariners defender) Zach Anderson a good chance with Trent Sainsbury."

Zwaanswijk rates his 2013 A-League title win on par with his back-to-back Dutch Cup crowns won with FC Utrecht in 2003 and 2004.

He will be hoping to help the Mariners qualify for the ACL quarter-finals when they host Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande in Gosford on Wednesday.

The return match in China will be played a week later.

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