Some debuts are expected, with the player having time to ready themselves as they prepare for the biggest moment of their career to date.
For Mariners captain Danny Vukovic, who now prepares himself for his 300th A-League Men’s game, it went a little bit different.
“I was on Terrigal Beach on game day, having fish and chips which was not the best pregame meal,” Vukovic said.
“I was not expecting to play, and I got a phone call from Lawrie McKinna informing me that John Crawley wasn’t good to play and that I was going to be. From that moment on until kick-off, which I think was a night kick off, I was very nervous.
“I thought I did well in my first game and that was sort of the start of bigger and better things. Making my debut as a young kid, you want to play professionally and making my debut here for the Mariners was special.”
Despite losing 2-1 against Melbourne Victory in that match, Vukovic showed the Central Coast fans the talent that he possessed. Stopping an Archie Thompson penalty before the striker unfortunately scored on the rebound, the then 20-year-old quickly became a fan favourite.
“Any young player, especially a goalkeeper, people are always going to be a little apprehensive. You don’t know how they are going to go, and I think I did really well to begin with and we made a grand final in my first season,” he said.
“It was the start of an amazing ride for me and my family. It is quite fitting that I’m going to be playing my 300thgame in the same stadium where it all began.”
18 years and 299 A-League matches later, Vukovic is ready for what will be a massive night as he celebrates an achievement that only six other players have accomplished.
“I think I will be a little bit emotional; I am walking out onto the pitch with my two boys which is something that I have not done before. That will be nice, and it will be emotional,” he said.
“However for me the focus is just the three points, we are at a crucial part of the season where all points matter. Maybe after the game, I’ve got a lot of family and friends that are going to be here so maybe that is when I will take a little bit of time and reflect.”
Looking at the season to date and to the game against Brisbane, the goalkeeper understands how important the match is for the side.
Three points are the goal as we keep touch with Adelaide and Western Sydney in second and third, as we look to secure a finals berth.
“If we were to say that we were going to be in this position at this point in the season at the start, of course we would have taken it. I still think we have yet to play our best football, we have shown glimpses, but consistency has been a little bit of a factor for us,” Vukovic said.
“We have five games now to get it right to start playing our best football and taking that confidence into the finals. Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to get back to winning ways and repay our supporters.”