Melbourne Victory's Carl Valeri not 'caught up in the emotions' of retirement
Expect steely inward focus and no outward shows of emotion from retiring Melbourne Victory captain Carl Valeri when he starts his last A-League finals campaign later this week.
The 34-year-old former Socceroo midfielder announced earlier this month he would finish up at the end of Victory's 2018-19 campaign.
Before that happens Valeri wants to reach a fourth Grand Final and win a third championship in his five-season stint with the Victorian glamour club.
His quest continues on Friday at Melbourne's AAMI Park, where third-placed Victory host Wellington Phoenix, who slumped to sixth on the back of a 5-0 last-round hiding at Perth.
Valeri could play one more home game before he finishes, but it will be a relatively meaningless AFC Champions League match, with Victory already effectively out of contention to advance beyond their group.
Conversely, Friday's game is a high stakes must-win clash for Victory as they seek to become the first club since Brisbane Roar in 2012 to win back-to-back titles.
If Victory lose it would be the final league game of Valeri's career, but he's not falling into the trap of getting sentimental or emotional and treating the last month of his 15-season professional career any differently.
"I just can't. I've done it for so long it's like when you're in such a routine to prepare for games and to approach games in a certain way it's almost impossible for me to do anything else," Valeri told AAP.
"I made the decision to myself not to over-emphasise everything.
"Just to treat it like I have done in the past, leave nothing out on the pitch, which is one of the things I always try and do, and that's been my main focus.
"I haven't got caught up in the emotions of it. There will be plenty of time to have a cry, have a laugh afterwards with my friends, with my family."
If Victory do triumph on Friday they will potentially need to win away at the top two clubs, Perth and Sydney to clinch successive championships.
Victory negotiated a similarly hazardous path last season when they won away to the top two teams.
They have already won at the home ground of Premiers Plate winner Perth and runner-up Sydney in the current campaign.
"Some of our best games this season have been on the road away from home," Valeri said.