Nigel Boogaard. It’s Boogaard, pronounced with an ‘oh’ sound, like ‘oh no Nigel’s going to get a red card again’.
For clarity, he has received nine red cards in his career making it the most in A-League history, and 79 cards in total throughout his 16-year career.
Let’s be real here, he’s received more red cards than converted goals (six) which is a stat in itself.
But this morning, we woke up to the news that the illustrious career of the Novocastrian leader, is over.
The final game of his career was played last night in front of no fans, no fanfare and the only joyous part of it was the three points the Jets grabbed to finish off their disappointing 2020/21 campaign.
Nigel Boogaard is everything cliché about Newcastle.
He’s a bit indie, has a weird taste in music and would rather watch the waves crash on those gorgeous beaches than look at banter from his mates in the WhatsApp Group most nights.
He actually scored his first ever A-League goal against the Jets, on his birthday while playing for the Jets’ rivals, Central Coast Mariners back in 2009.
Soon enough, he packed up his swag, vinyl and the three T-shirts he owned and moved to South Australia to play for Adelaide United, where he would cement himself as not only one of the best defenders in the A-League, but one of the best footballers in Australia.
A former captain of The Reds described Boogs’ as “reliable, passionate, plays harder than most and you never had to doubt his commitment to the players and club. His leadership speaks volumes of the person that he is, and he is the teammate every player wants to have.“
Tough, determined and sometimes clumsy on the field, Nigel commanded respect not only by his actions on the field, but the way he led the team – especially the defenders on a day to day basis.
Players such as Adelaide United’s vice-captain Jordan Elsey had their work experience under Boogaard, and there aren’t many better mentors than Nigel to help guide a young player through the life of a professional footballer.
Nigel was an old school defender, and let’s be honest – there aren’t many of them left in the A-League.
His opponents understood that they weren’t getting past him, with or without the ball. That’s what his fans loved about him, and that’s what opposition fans wished they had playing for them.
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In 2015, the call to come home was too strong for Nigel.
He’d done his service in Adelaide, winning the inaugural FFA Cup and being Mr. Consistent, and he knew the only way he would leave that city, was to have an opportunity to play in front of his family in Newcastle.
And he didn’t just play for the Jets, he captained them for 121 games, the longest serving skipper in Jets’ history.
Obviously a few months later, after leaving the Reds’, Boogaard watched them win their first A-League Championship, while he was home in Newcastle.
And a few seasons later, he had the chance to lead his Newcastle team to Championship Glory, but…yep… that goal…that VAR… that heartbreak.
He should’ve been a Championship player. But as the cliché goes, That’s Football.
2021 was a frustrating year for Boogaard.
Injury plagued most of his season, an underperforming side with a question mark over the ownership which has hampered Newcastle for years and continual player movement didn’t help the Jets’ campaign.
Oh and that bastard called COVID wasn’t helpful either.
But even with all those road blocks, 2021 was one of Nigel’s happiest years.
He had an idea it could’ve been his last, so he enjoyed football for what it was.
To see the young kids shine, to not get caught up in the day to day drama, and to not sweat the small stuff. That’s why when he was on the field, he still made a huge impact.
The thing about everything you’ve just read about Nigel Boogaard. It describes an incredible, consistent (red cards included) career across three A-League clubs, junior National Representation and numerous overseas opportunities. But it doesn’t define him.
Nigel has always been more than a footballer.
He is a devoted husband to his wife Kerryn, who runs her own successful business in Newcastle, after establishing it during their time in South Australia.
He is a father to two, beautiful young girls who would be so excited they get to see their daddy a little bit more throughout the summer.
Nigel is also establishing himself in the property sector, and has been for the past few seasons, making sure his life after football is taken care of too.
He’s a caring, intelligent and smart bloke and his leadership qualities would translate to any business across the world.
He has a heart of gold and this was displayed in a moment not many would’ve seen, years ago on a warm Sunday afternoon at Coopers Stadium while Adelaide United was taking on the Central Coast Mariners.
Matt Simon, striker for the Mariners had been experiencing some extreme personal challenges off the field, whilst on it – he had just torn his hamstring, Simon, while walking off in tears, before making his way across the line to be substituted, was stopped by Boogaard, who made his way from the defensive position he was manning, to give his opponent a hug, and some supportive words and ensure he was ok.
Leadership is sometimes defined by your actions when no one is watching.
Nigel led, right up until the final minute on the field, in his last ever A-League game.
Newcastle avoided the A-League wooden spoon last night by defeating the A-League Premiers and favoured Champs, Melbourne City.
This resulted in Melbourne Victory receiving the Spoon. I knew he still had a place in his heart for Adelaide, sending the old nemesis to the bottom. It was also a nice little way to get back at the Victory for that Grand Final!
Always gets the last laugh, Bloody Boogaard.
His clubs were lucky to have had him.
The A-League is grateful to have had him.
His family are excited to have him back.
You massive Novocastrian Bogan.
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