WHEN MetroStars line up in the FFA Cup round of 16 on Tuesday night, one man responsible for getting them there will be watching from the stands.
David Menechella was forced to call time on his 19-year senior soccer career earlier this month due to an ongoing neck injury.
The defender played a key role in last season’s National Premier League finals triumph, which earnt the Klemzig club a place in the knockout competition.
But he was a late withdrawal from the squad which beat New South Wales Premier League leader Blacktown City in MetroStars’ FFA Cup debut.
“To go over to Sydney and win that game was huge,” says Menechella, whose shirt was hung in the MetroStars’ changing room as a mark of respect during the 2-1 victory.
“Watching the online stream of the match and not being there was really difficult.
“But to see the boys win and how rapt they were with the result was brilliant and overtook the whole disappointment of not being involved.
”Menechella had played 18 matches in the SA Premier League campaign when a neck injury, originally sustained in a heavy knock last season, recurred against West Adelaide last month.
The 35-year-old’s worst fears were confirmed when doctors advised him to hang up his boots.
“It was an injury that came back over time and more impact (from playing on) could potentially cause really serious damage,” says Menechella, who racked up 282 matches and seven trophies in 14 seasons at MetroStars.
“It was a difficult time leading in to playing the biggest game in the club’s history in the FFA Cup.
“Everyone wants to end on their own terms, but in my case it wasn’t to be.
”Menechella’s earliest soccer memories are of backyard games with older brothers Daniel and Michael where he “developed the physical side” of his game.
The trio would go on to play together at Campbelltown City, where David made 84 first team appearances before moving to MetroStars in 2002.
“I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Campbelltown because I played my junior career there and I still have a lot of respect for the people there,” says Menechella, who faced a Spanish Olympic side containing superstars Xavi and Carles Puyol with the state team in 2000.
“But MetroStars were moving in the direction I wanted to, so it was a no-brainer to move on and try to get the success in my career that I wanted.
Menechella will have break from football to spend more time with son Jaxson, 2, and wife Krystle, who is expecting a child in January.
He will be a keen observer when MetroStars meet Victorian club Oakleigh Cannons at the Parks for a place in the FFA Cup quarterfinals.
“I’ll still try to have any impact I can, even if it’s just that little bit of motivation to help get them over the line,” the Tranmere resident says.
“I’ve got no doubt that if the boys go there with the right frame of mind, they can definitely get the result.”