Western Sydney Wanderers's grand final fullback Adam D'Apuzzo has retired from the A-League to concentrate on a career in accounting.
D'Apuzzo, 27, parted company with the Wanderers at the end of last season. He told The World Game he had offers from other A-League clubs and that there were also options overseas, but that he had chosen to concentrate on his off-field career.
It wasn't reported at the time, but D'Apuzzo had an offer to re-sign with the Wanderers.
He decided not to accept it because he felt he had lost the passion to keep playing under circumstances where he wasn't earning big money, he and his wife, Cara, were expecting their first child and he had a great opportunity to take a different career path.
D'Apuzzo has since resumed working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), where he had begun work before Wanderers recruited him. He had stayed in contact with PWC and it had held a spot open for him in the business.
"I wasn't really enjoying the effort I was putting in with my football towards the end, to be honest," D'Apuzzo said.
"I felt I could make better use of my time from now on. It wasn't meaning as much to me towards the end.
"It's a funny thing. I mean, I still love the club and I'll still go and watch them play and I still love the game, but I don't like doing it as a job any more. I sort of lost that passion.
"The club made me an offer to stay, but it was for the same money I was on and I'd taken a gamble in the first place to leave PWC and play football full-time. If I was going to keep playing, I was going to have to be making more money doing it.
"Our first baby is due in November. The baby coming wasn't really a factor when I made the decision, but I knew it would become a factor later on.
"I didn't want to be in a position in my early to mid-30s where I had a family to provide for and not much money. I couldn't take that chance.
"Sometimes you have to make important career and life decisions."
D'Apuzzo said that after initially having second thoughts about whether he had made the right decision, he was now comfortable with it.
He played in the 2-1 grand final loss to Brisbane Roar last month, after missing last season's grand final loss to Central Coast Mariners because of injury.
"For a week or two after the grand final I was thinking 'maybe I haven't done the right thing, I can still find the passion, I want to win a championship', but the more I stayed away and put it in perspective the clearer things became.
"I'm really comfortable with my decision now and I've got no regrets. I left the club on good terms.
"I'd realised I wasn't going to be able to keep putting in 100 per cent. I'd go to training and think the effort I'm putting in I could be putting towards my next career and making a better contribution to that.
"As much as football is fun and something I love, and it was awesome playing in front of those fans and being part of the A-League, I just couldn't see it evolving to a point where I was getting more benefit out of it.
"I had some offers in the A-League, but it wasn't really in my plans any more. I think it would be the Wanderers or nothing for me, really. I wasn't really interested in playing against them and it would have had to have been something pretty decent to get me away from home in Sydney.
"I thought about the overseas thing, but it's difficult when you're my age, not being a current Socceroo, the position I play in and not having a foreign passport. It really narrows down your opportunities.
"A couple of chances appeared in Iran and China, but not in areas where it was comfortable living with a young family, so I didn't see that as an option, either."
D'Apuzzo said working at PWC gave him the chance to climb the business ladder.
"I'd done almost a year before I got the call from Wanderers," he said. "PWC held my position for me the whole time and I maintained contact with them and maintained some of my studies. I'm more than appreciative of what they did for me in that area.
"Head office is in the city, but I go out to visit clients and PWC gives me the opportunity to move around and experience different aspects of the accounting and business world. At the moment I'm part of the audit team, but I'm keen to move around the firm and dabble in different areas."
D'Apuzzo says he is now just playing football with his mates, for fun.
"I'll see next year whether I get itchy feet again and think about another return to State League," he said. "But at the moment I play Sunday mornings with a group of mates, and on Monday evenings in a six-a-side tournament at Homebush.
"So I still love the game - just not as a job any more."