A-League championship-winning captain Carl Valeri has called time on his stunning career and will retire at the end of Melbourne Victory's season.
"I'm very fortunate. I reached my dreams," the beaming midfielder said on Friday in an emotional press conference.
From the Australian Institute of Sport, he captained Australia at the under-17 World Cup and was picked up by European giants Inter Milan, spending a decade playing in Italy.
Valeri, 34, earned more than 50 caps for the Socceroos, reaching his peak in 2010 when he started each of Australia's matches at the World Cup in South Africa.
He returned home in 2014 to play five seasons for Melbourne Victory, winning two championships, a premiership and an FFA Cup before mulling retirement last year deciding to stay another season.
Valeri choked back tears as he considered his career, his achievements and influences; including his father, Walter, who he called his hero.
"It wasn't an easy decision. It's hard. But it's the right time," he said.
"I'm announcing it early and I want everyone to know my focus is on this end of the season.
"When I do play my last game, it will be a time of celebration and reflection on a special career and five wonderful seasons with Melbourne Victory."
Valeri made the announcement ahead of finals-bound Victory's final home game against Central Coast on Sunday at AAMI Park.
The club is certain to host at least an elimination game in the first week of the play-offs, with an Asian Champions League clash against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on May 22 likely to be his last match.
Valeri was almost involuntarily retired three years ago, when inflammation on the brain sidelined him for four months.
He nominated his most recent trophy, Victory's championship won from fourth place, as his career highlight alongside his international appearances.
"That's where you get the most satisfaction in those really tough times," he said.
"When you are the underdog and no one wants you to win and you end up coming up on top. That was really a big highlight for me."
A recent layoff with a hamstring injury allowed Valeri time to consider his future with wife Whitney.
He told his teammates last week.
The midfield enforcer is undecided on whether he'll remain in the game as a coach or otherwise but has recently opened an academy bearing his name in Melbourne.
"The amount of times Whitney has heard 'I can't go up the stairs can you go to the kids', 'my knees are killing me' or 'I have to sleep today, I can't do this' or 'I can't do that'," he said.
"If anyone deserves recognition today it's my wife Whitney."
Australian Associated Press