A devastated Brendon Santalab says it will be a long time before he can erase the memory of the missed penalty that saw Perth Glory crash out of the A-League grand final.
The departing striker, inconsolable after Sunday’s game, apologised to teammates and fans for the attempted Panenka chip in the shootout that was saved easily by Sydney FC goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
“I still need some time to recover mentally. I’ll be forever upset with what happened,” Santalab said.
“When you let so many people down … I apologise to the fans, my teammates, everybody involved at the football club.
“I know all the hard work that went in but the support around me has been incredible.
“To fall short in that way is heartbreaking for the team, the coach everybody. Football can be a cruel game and in that big moment it just didn’t happen.
“I’ll forever look back and wonder ‘what if this, what if that’. It’s one moment in my whole career … it’s football.”
While Santalab has taken the brunt of the criticism for the loss, Glory’s golden boot winner Andy Keogh also had his kick saved. And Santalab was a hero of the semifinal shootout against Adelaide United, firing home under pressure when Glory were 3-1 down.
He had decided to attempt the cheeky chip kick on his way from the halfway line.
“I had that in my mind because I saw his (Redmayne’s) first couple of dives were quite big and aggressive and he was jumping around all over the place,” he said. “He just didn’t dive and that’s what I can’t get out of my mind. Sometimes you need a touch of luck.”
Despite the grand final loss, Santalab says Glory can look back on a successful season having won the Premiers’ Plate and qualified for the Asian Champions League.
“There are plenty of positives, a lot of good memories, but the penalty miss will sit with me for a very, very long time,” he said “I just hope they win it next year and everybody can forget this. Knowing Popa (coach Tony Popovic) and the squad he will have, I can see them there next year.”
Santalab, 36, won the ACL with Western Sydney Wanderers in 2014, was the club’s top scorer in 2015-16 and their player of the year in 2016-17. He will play for Dandenong City in the Victorian NPL next season.
“It’s going to be a new journey. I’ll also be coaching kids to give something back to the game,” Santalab said.
“I don’t think I’ll be showing them how to take penalties.”