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Emotions ambush Phoenix defender

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/04/2016 Cathy Walshe

Surprisingly for one of the A-League's grittiest defenders, Wellington Phoenix's Ben Sigmund is feeling a little fragile at the moment.

Just days out from the final match in a stellar eight-year career, the 35-year-old central defender keeps getting ambushed at the most unlikely moments.

Sigmund has no worries he'll keep the emotions in check come game day, when he runs out for the last time in the yellow-and-black Phoenix shirt to take on Western Sydney Wanderers at Westpac Stadium.

But he admits it's a bit of a struggle at the moment.

"The sad emotions are coming through but in general, I'm just trying to enjoy this week, enjoy the boys and the last bit of training even though every time I run it it seems to hurt everywhere," he said after training on Thursday.

Away from training, however, things are a little trickier.

"Certain songs - it's really weird, you're just driving along with the radio and all these songs come on and you have a wee cry on your own.

"It's a proud emotion, just to say I'm at the end of it all. I'm looking forward to it finishing, but I'm also going to be sad at the same time."

Sigmund has played 180 games since his debut match against Central Coast Mariners in September 2008, starting in all but six, and scoring seven goals along the way.

This season has been his most challenging, as he's battled both illness and injury in managing to play in 14 of Wellington's 27 regular season matches.

A debilitating combination of giardia and concussion sidelined him initially in early December, with a stubborn hamstring injury extending his time off the field until late February.

It hasn't made any difference to his approach.

"Every game's been like a grand final to me - I go out to win every game," Sigmund said.

"It's been a hard year for me, injury-wise and illness. But how hard I've worked just to get out there for this last game is something to be proud of."

Coach Ernie Merrick, at the Phoenix helm for the last three years of Sigmund's career, says he suspects he'll have to hire two defenders to do Sigmund's job next season.

"Ben has been terrific. He's typical of a Kiwi sort of attitude which is: it doesn't matter what talent I have, I've got to make the most of it, I've got to give 100 per cent every game, and I expect the same of my teammates.

"He's performed for so long doing that, he's a regular first 11 choice and it'll be a bit strange next year trying to pick a first 11 without him."

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