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Feb 13, 2008

Vidmar to retire after grand final

Former Socceroo defender Tony Vidmar has confirmed he will retire from all forms of football following the A-League grand final.

The Central Coast marquee player on Thursday said the February 24 decider would be his final competitive game, ending a 19-year professional career.

"There has been a lot of speculation on what I was going to do, whether to continue on or to end my career," Vidmar said in a statement.

"I made up my mind about three weeks ago and thought that it was probably the right time to finish and that was well before we clinched our grand final berth."

The Mariners, after claiming the minor premiership and a berth in the 2009 Asian Champions League, will play either Newcastle or Queensland in Sunday week's grand final at the Sydney Football Stadium.

"My aim at the start of the season was to help qualify the team for the (Asian) Champions League and to top that now would be very difficult," Vidmar added.

While losing one veteran, Vidmar's retirement could open the door for Central Coast to retain John Aloisi, with the Mariners now able to sign the Socceroos star as their marquee player next season.

Vidmar began his senior football with NSL club Adelaide City in 1989, before playing more than a decade overseas with stints at Scottish giants Rangers, Premier League outfit Middlesbrough and Dutch side NAC Breda.

The 37-year-old is the third most capped Socceroo of all time, playing 76 games for the national team between 1991 and 2006.

He played a pivotal role in Australia's qualification for the 2006 World Cup, but missed the tournament because of health reasons due to an irregular heart rhythm.

Vidmar was later cleared to resume playing, joining the Mariners in 2006 on a two-year deal as the club's marquee player and making his international swansong in Australia's friendly against Paraguay in October 2006.

"I'd like to thank everyone at the Mariners, everyone in the office to the coaching staff and my teammates.

"After what happened with my medical condition it was a gamble that they took to bring me here and I'd like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to finish my career in Australia, it would definitely be nice to finish it off with a championship."