NORTH Queensland Fury vice-captain Robbie Middleby has announced his retirement from football and will play his last match against Gold Coast United on Saturday night.
Middleby had a year to run on his playing contract but has opted to take on the role of Football Operations Manager with the Fury.
"This is going to be my last game," Middleby said. "I had it in my mind for a long time, but the sort of person I am, I wanted to just fade out.
"But I've been fortunate in the last six months to talk with the club about a new role as football operations manager for the club and I feel very privileged that's the role I'm going into."
Middleby has had a distinguished career, having played for his country five times, 21 games for the Fury and 112 Hyundai A-League matches when he runs on against Gold Coast.
The humble stalwart said he'd spoken to his teammates and friends from former clubs about his decision, and believed his future as a football administrato rwas the right thing for him and for his family.
"I'd heard different things saying that I should keep playing, but this opportunity to stay involved in football and with this club is too good to turn down," Middleby said.
"I didn't want to say anything about retiring but I want my kids to know it's my last game as well and send me off."
Middleby said it was disappointing not to be able to end his career with another finals series, but the 34-year-old said he would treat the final match of the season against Gold Coast as a final and wouldn't be holding anything back.
"I go out every game to win and I hate losing," the Fury vice-captain added. "We've got a home game and we've got a team that's fighting for the title this year so it'd be a great way to go out."