With a free flow of tears and an emotional farewell in front of his home faithful, the greatest contributor to the A-League’s on-field story so far said goodbye.
Let’s not let it be lost amidst the underrated Asian Champions League scene, or that Archie Thompson has been a peripheral figure in the last 12 months for the Victory.
Over 11 years of the A-League, no one has done more to contribute to the A-League’s story than Archie Thompson.
Aaron Mooy is currently brilliant; Bruno Fornaroli is as good as we’ve seen. We’ve loved Besart Berisha for his exploits, Marcelo Carrusca and Gui Finkler have been architects for title triumphs and Thomas Broich has sustained excellence over three Championships.
Alessandro del Piero brought headlines and Harry Kewell temporarily splashed billboards. Matt McKay, Michael Theo, Eugene Galekovic, Shane Smeltz and Mark Bridge have been mighty contributors too.
But through all that, there’s been Archie Thompson – not just the greatest goal scorer, with 90, but a lovable character and great ambassador.
He’s been a pioneer as well.
He’s a player who took a gamble and handed the unknown A-League a massive show of faith in 2005 by returning from Belgium, where he was carving out his European career with Lierse, where he’d notched almost a century of caps.
He came back in his prime.
Sure, Kevin Muscat returned, and so did Steve Corica, and others.
But here we are, 11 years on, and Thompson is still contributing.
He showed you could make World Cup and Asian Cup squads from your exploits back home.
He delivered time and time again on the big stage – just reference his iconic Melbourne derby goal where he streaked down the field and flirted with Heart fans on the touchline.
He owns a piece of folklore – five goals in a grand final – that will likely never be surpassed.
And when everyone told him he was done after a most unfortunate knee injury before the season, he made it back on the pitch.
Muscat’s paid to make the tough calls and as he re-builds Melbourne Victory for a new era, Thompson, now 37, wasn’t part of those plans. Whether he finds another club here, or earns some extra cash in Asia somewhere, doesn’t really matter.
Melbourne Victory will be a different place without him.
THE ARCHIE FILES
MINUTES: 17, 349
2005-2006 GOLDEN BOOT
2006-2007 JOE MARSTON MEDAL WINNER
2007-2008, 2009-2010 VICTORY MEDAL
2005-2006, 2006-2007 VICTORY GOLDEN BOOT
PREMIERS PLATES: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2014–15
CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2014–15
FFA CUP: 2015
© 2016 Fox Sports | This article was written by David Weiner which first appeared in The Fox Sports on May 18 2016.