By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Imagine playing 17 years at the top level of football in your country and your wife and children haven’t seen you play!
Well that’s what happened to Bohemian’s captain Derek Pender. However his wife Jennifer and his two children will finally rectify that tomorrow night when they witness his final game as a footballer.
Derek will retire from the game after the clash with Sligo Rovers, in front of an adoring home crowd, following eight years at the club, five of those as captain.
Pender is looking forward to seeing his family at the game, “She’s coming tomorrow for the first time. She’s never taken an interest. She’s looked after me, looked after the two kids. She just never took an interest. She knows my moods, she been behind me ever since I was at Belvedere under 14’s.”
The 35 year-old has contemplated retirement for a while now as he said, “I thought about it a few times, and even last year as well. But with the off-season that Keith had and the players that left I felt it wasn’t the right time to be leaving. This year it’s gone so well, it’s been a great season for us all, I think it’s the right time for me now.”
Speaking about the highlight of his time at Bohs Pender said, “The biggest highlight for me has been to captain this club. The last five years, obviously I’ve been here eight years, the start was obviously tough. The club was in a bit of disarray at that time. Thankfully the members and all the supporters have got it back to where it is. Here we are today, qualified for Europe with a game to go. It’s great.
“It is madness, it’s amazing though. We all say that it’s the Greatestleagueintheworld. There’s great people, great fans all over the country, it’s what makes it so special. It’s what makes you do it. We go to work every morning, as most players do, you go up to training every night. You miss so much of your family life, your wife and kids. It’s worth it, and I’m going to miss it.”
Of all the players he played against it was difficult for him to nail down the toughest one. In the end he mentioned two, “Paddy McCourt. – I was playing with Dublin City and Dermot Keely told me to go out and man-mark Paddy McCourt and not get sent off, and I got sent off. But, Michael Duffy is the best I’ve played against.”
While his playing days at the club are coming to an end, another chapter is about to be written, as he’s expected to remain at the club in some capacity. However manager Keith Long says that role hasn’t been determined as of yet.
When asked if he would go down the coaching route Pender said, “I’ve only ever concentrated on football, I said that to Keith as well. I never thought about coaching because I always wanted to play. I didn’t think I’d ever have to retire form playing football. I never thought I’d have to announce this. Now obviously yeah I will be thinking about that route and see where it goes.”
Photo Credit: Bohemians FC and Seb Daly (Sportsfile)