Broxham brings up A-League first
CONSIDERING the A-League player merry-go-round and the number of times Leigh Broxham was supposedly out of Melbourne Victory's first XI plans, Friday's history-making milestone is remarkable.
Broxham will become the first A-League player to reach 300 games with one club when Victory host Perth Glory, and will rise to equal sixth on the all-time list alongside Adelaide City's National Soccer League greats Bugsy Nyskohus and Milan Ivanovic.
While Broxham, 31, declared resilience was key, he revealed how he almost left Victory for a now defunct A-League club, before considered a life-changing Middle East move.
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"Ernie (Merrick) told me one year into a three-year deal (2010-11) that I wasn't in his plans for the upcoming season, he wanted to try younger guys. I started looking at other options, including moving up to Gold Coast for a season with Miron (Bleiberg)," Broxham said.
"I was in talks, then a few months later the club sacked Ernie. Then Mehmet (Durakovic) came in and wanted me to stay.
"A couple of years ago there was a deal to go to Qatar that didn't work out. You want to stay at Victory, but when you're talking life-changing money - people dance around the money thing.
"A couple of years ago I had a few injuries and contract talks were delayed. That was one year I wasn't sure of my future. Otherwise contracts have kept going and I've been happy staying.
"I've been a decent A-League player for 15 years, I've been inventive with money I've earnt and made different investments. But when I finish I'll be working."
The Victory boo boys' favourite, Broxham has developed a cult status among many fans with his underdog story, which started as Victory kit man.
The roof virtually lifts off AAMI Park on the rare occasions he scores - including the sealer in the 2015 grand final (his career highlight).
Nicknamed 'The Brox from Knox' and 'DJ Brox', a Leigh Broxham Facts Twitter page pays homage to the underrated, versatile Broxham while providing Broxy Bingo updates.
The turning point with fans came in the Ange Postecoglou era, when he made 25 appearances, headlined by his courageous Round 13, 2012-13 effort.
Giving away almost 20 centimetres to ex Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey, he won virtually every header in winning the duel.
"I'm not flash bang, we all know that. But I don't just chill out and ring agents and ask for a new club. There were times when I wasn't playing and I didn't just (demand a transfer). I fought it out, got myself into teams," he said.
"Mental toughness of players coming through (is a factor), they've got to fight for it. That's probably what's got me longevity at (Victory).
"I honoured my contract and (breaking in)."
IN LEIGH'S WORDS - BROXHAM ON…
HIS 300th GAME
"There's been a lot of moving parts throughout, but I've been able to play football which was my dream growing up, in my home town in front of family and friends, at such a great club. It's been a great journey. There's been lots of different hairstyles. Everyone keeps coming back to the mohawk, in the Magilton era."
"Grand final win at AAMI Park and scoring the final goal in the last minute. I felt untouchable for a week after that and I think I played every game that season and played well. Last season didn't finish well, but personally winning the Victory medal is something I've never achieved in 14 years, that was nice. The very first grand final, I'd only played a few games, winning 6-0, I didn't really understand what everything was about. That was pretty special."
"Last season' semi-final loss is still pretty fresh. The loss on penalties at home in 2010, I played every minute of every game that year. Going out on penalties at home, we travelled that night for a Champions League and got sent off two days later as well. That was a rock bottom few days really."
ON FAMILY/FRIEND SUPPORT
"Off the field it hasn't been that normal with the kid situation (triplets) - to play professional football still, it's not easy. Without the support of the immediate family, I never would have been able to achieve each milestone. To be able to play in front of them all the time is satisfying. At different stages you have to get different support from different family members and friends. They know who they are."
CREATING MORE ONE-CLUB PLAYERS
"There's different moving parts - the salary cap, lots of players coming off contract. It's a bit of both - it's a bit of opportunity and a bit to do with clubs. We've had it - like Jimmy Jeggo, wasn't working out here and needed a change, went to Adelaide, did well and it was a great platform for him. Andrew Nabbout as well. Sometimes changes are warranted to get the best out of people, but there's opportunities for people that put their head down."
HOW MANY MORE GAMES
"I'm contracted after this season - so until 2021. After that I'll take it year by year. I feel good now, I'll be 33 at the end of that contract. I'd ideally want to go on another year after that and then see how the body and mind is."
LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL
"I'm looking to do a business degree and a B Licence coaching in coaching - it's a bit cliched for players to go into. I quite enjoy business. Sam (wife) is a personal trainer, so looking at getting a warehouse or studio with her."
LOYAL LEIGH BROXHAM
MOST APPEARANCES FOR ONE CLUB (NSL AND A-LEAGUE)
445 Sergio Melta Adelaide City
436 Alex Tobin Adelaide City
430 Paul Trimboli South Melbourne
338 Steve Blair South Melbourne
333 Joe Mullen Adelaide City
300 Bugsy Nyskohus Adelaide City
300 Milan Ivanovic Adelaide City
299 Leigh Broxham Melbourne Victory
296 Gary Meier Sydney Olympic
284 Matthew Horsley Wollongong Wolves
282 Josip Biskic Melbourne Knights
MOST APPEARANCES - ONE A-LEAGUE CLUB
299 Leigh Broxham Melbourne Victory
273 Andrew Durante Wellington Phoenix
272 Matt McKay Brisbane Roar
238 Eugene Galekovic Adelaide United
228 John Hutchinson Central Coast Mariners
224 Archie Thompson Melbourne Victory
222 Alex Brosque Sydney FC
197 Vince Lia Wellington Phoenix
192 Manny Muscat Wellington Phoenix
184 Ben Kantarovski Newcastle Jets