It wasn't the biggest crowd he had ever been in front of, not by a mile.
But hearing the 1,000-odd fans chant his name after Tampines Rovers' 2-1 win over Brunei DPMM at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night was enough to make Aleksandar Duric cry.
The Stags' goal machine, 44 years young, finally decided to call time on his professional career, which saw him score 321 S.League goals, win eight league titles and three RHB Singapore Cups.
He had joked with The New Paper before last night's match that he would try not to shed many tears at full-time.
But he was already overcome with emotion before kick-off, when Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng and Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin presented him a Singapore jersey with the numbers 24 and 53 printed on it.
The numbers represented the number of goals and international caps the Bosnia-born forward had scored since becoming a Singapore citizen in 2007.
After the game, he was trying to hold it all in when TNP asked him if he had pulled himself together.
"A little bit, yeah... It's really tough, man," he said.
"Tougher than I thought. I was already emotional before the game kicked off.
"It's finished, man. This is it. No more Aleks Duric on the football pitch."
Starting the match on the bench, Duric expected to play just the final 10 minutes but got an entire half instead, after he replaced injured teammate Noh Alam Shah at the break.
He ended up having a hand in both Tampines' goals, finding Jozef Kaplan with a deep cross in the 65th minute, before forcing DPMM goalkeeper Azman Ilham into a 73rd-minute mistake which Miljan Mrdakovic took advantage of.
The goals helped his former team Warriors, with whom he won four consecutive S.League titles from 2006 to 2009, to their record ninth crown.
With a satisfied smile, Duric said: "Somehow, I helped my old club to win, and I'm happy they won and that the S.League (trophy) stays on home soil. That's the most important thing to me.
"I'm happy I finished my career with a win and a (second runners-up) medal around my neck.
"Tomorrow, I wake up for the first time in over 20 years not as a professional player.
"It won't be easy.
"But slowly, day by day, week by week, maybe I'll get used to it."
This article was first published on Nov 1, 2014.
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