Nikolai Topor-Stanley is set to become only the second player in A-League Men history to play 350 games as Western United prepares to take on Melbourne City on Saturday.
Topor-Stanley has played an important role at Western United already this season and will likely come into the starting line-up after Tomoki Imai’s red card against Wellington Phoenix last week.
Speaking to media on Tuesday ahead of the big milestone, Topor-Stanley said he is excited to share the occasion with his family but admitted that the three points are always the most important thing on the day.
“It’s obviously something to be proud of, and I’m hoping to share that with my family and my kids on the weekend,” he said.
“But it’s a game to win too, that’s first and foremost in my mind; three points against a good Melbourne City side.”
A family man with two young children, Topor-Stanley said despite the trophies and successes he has had on the pitch, there is one very clear favourite memory of his career.
“Actually walking out with my kids for the first time – I didn’t think that I would experience that emotion. Knowing that they can watch me on TV, and hopefully they have some memories of it, that’s probably the most special thing to me at the moment,” he said.
The 36-year-old defender has made five appearances for United so far this season after playing 189 times for Newcastle Jets across two spells. Added to that, he made 104 appearances for Western Sydney Wanderers and a combined 51 appearances between spells at Sydney FC and Perth Glory.
When his contract at Newcastle came to an end at the conclusion of last season, Topor-Stanley had a decision to make on whether or not he would keep going and reach 350 games or above.
But he said that as soon as Western United came calling it was an easy decision, for one simple reason.
“The chance to win an A-League [Men]. It’s simple. This club is very ambitious, it’s going places where we’re writing our own history as we speak and that was attractive to me,” he said.
“I believe, with this group of players and coaching staff – we’re building fans, we’re building infrastructure in terms of the stadium. I know the Club’s probably copped a little bit of stick in the media, but once it’s done, it’s going to be something that changes sporting history in Australia. To be part of that was a no brainer for me.”
His experiences as a young player right through to every minute on the pitch have contributed to the player and the man that Topor-Stanley is today.
As he continues to perform at the highest level and defy expectations, he is also beginning to nurture the younger generation and pass on his learnings throughout his career.
“That’s what we get paid to do. We don’t get paid to cut corners. I’ve seen what it’s like to not be in football, and it takes the threat of that to know that this is the best job in the world,” he said.
“We’re so fortunate to stay fit, get paid to travel. For all the hard work, it’s all worth it in the end that this is a privilege. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and my teammates’ time by not giving everything that I can.”
Throughout an illustrious career, Topor-Stanley has lifted the Asian Champions League as captain of Western Sydney in 2013 and won the Premiers Plate with the Wanderers in the same season.
In good shape both physically and mentally, Topor-Stanley will hope to add an A-League Men Championship with Western United to his personal cabinet before his time is up.