Ben Sigmund knew it was time to retire from international football when his four-year-old son Cameron stopped and looked up at him as the pair walked to kindy a couple of days after he had returned home from a three-week trip last month.
“He squeezed my hand and said ‘Daddy, I’m so glad you have come home’,”
Sigmund said. “It was an emotional moment and just confirmed something I had been thinking about for some time. It was time to call quits on my time with the All Whites.”
After talking to wife Deanna, new All Whites coach Anthony Hudson and Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick 33-year-old Sigmund brought the curtain down on his international career yesterday.
Making the decision a little easier was the realisation that he had no chance of playing in the next World Cup four years from now, and that he had not got on the field against Uzbekistan last month.
“I was away from my family for three weeks and sat on the bench during the game,” he says, “It got to the point where I was missing my family terribly and feel it is now time to give more to them because you never get that (family) time back.
“I will still be playing for the Phoenix and while we are away in Aussie every other week it is usually only for weekends.
“I respect the fact that Anthony is looking to the future and there are plenty of senior players in the squad to mentor the young ones coming through.
“While I still feel I can do a job it is their (young players) time now.
“It is also important to me that I am going out on my terms and that this decision may extend my Phoenix career by a couple of years.
“My body feels good and I look upon the Phoenix as a second family.”
When you ask Sigmund for the best moment of his international career, which spanned 32 appearances, you expect it to be the unbeaten run of the All Whites at the 2010 World Cup finals.
Wrong. “The win over Bahrain that qualified us for the finals is by far the greatest moment,” he says with a grin. “I’ll never forget that night and there are photos of that game in the hallway of my house.”
So what about the finals? Surely those games provided great memories.
“Not really because I didn’t get to play in any of them.
“I had played in all the lead up games and then didn’t get on the field in South Africa.
“It was one of the most difficult times of my life. It was tough for me and tough for Deanna and my family.
“Cameron had been born the week before we left for South Africa and it had been difficult to leave him and then I didn’t even play . . .”
On his return from South Africa Sigmund set out to prove he was still a top player and did just that by winning every award at the Wellington Phoenix over the next three years.
One of the most popular players to ever pull on an All Whites shirt, Sigmund will be missed by his international team mates but Deanna, Cameron and one-year-old daughter Ashley will be pleased to see more of him.