FOOTBALL: Leigh Broxham says he has had to earn every game he's played at Melbourne Victory as he prepares to break the club's games record on Thursday night.
When the vice-captain steps on to Etihad Stadium for the Australia Day blockbuster against Sydney FC, Broxham will be making his 225th A-League appearance in Victory colours.
It's a remarkable achievement considering his career path.
The 29-year-old started at the club in season one as its kit man, received a playing contract in season two only to become a whipping boy for the fans, so much so he was booed by some when he came on to the field for his 100th game.
But soon the tide shifted and now the man known as the club's Mr Fixit for his ability to play in a variety of positions is a firm fan favourite.
He captained Victory against Liverpool in 2013, was at the helm for much of last season with Carl Valeri sidelined by illness and scored the third goal in the 2014-15 grand final win over Sydney FC.
"I played 17 games in my first full year and then if you'd asked me if I thought I'd play 225 games I'd say 'no'," Broxham said.
"The game is so volatile. I've seen staff come and go, I've seen players come and go and come back again.
"You've gone from one thing to another there, the story, but you take each thing in its stride.
"You know where you've come from and you grow as a person and you feel like you can then get to a spot where you deserve to be.
"I've had to earn everything I've got to this point. I haven't been gifted anything, I've had to go and get it myself. I'm proud of it, of course, but you have to limit it.
"We're in a position as a team where we can do something special this year and so just because I've reached this point where I've played the most games now doesn't mean I'm gonna kick back and say 'it doesn't matter what happens now'."
To add an extra element of significance to Thursday night's occasion for Broxham, his step dad - Cor, from the Netherlands - will receive Australian citizenship as part of the club's annual on-field citizenship ceremony before the game.
Broxham's record eclipses the 224 games Archie Thompson played for Victory and comes just weeks after Besart Berisha went past Thompson on the A-League's all-time scoring chart.
"We've achieved different things, but Archie's done a lot more than what I've achieved in the game," Broxham said.
"He's a legend of this club."
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