In a shock move announced earlier this week, long serving Wellington Phoenix defender Louis Fenton announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 29.
Named in part after footballing icon Ferenc Puskas from his football loving father, Fenton has always had football in his blood.
Fenton first impressed on the pitch as a teenager in the NPL Victoria and the New Zealand Football Championship, where he featured for the likes of St. Albans Saints, Melbourne Knights and Team Wellington before linking up with A-League Men’s side Wellington Phoenix in 2012.
During his first stint with his hometown side, Fenton’s impact was almost immediate after scoring a spectacular diving header off the back of a Manny Muscat cross on his professional debut against Sydney FC.
Fenton’s debut goal would later go on to be named as the goal of the decade for the Wellington Phoenix.
“Getting to play professional football was my dream. I grew up supporting the club and the club’s become such a big part of my life and part of the person I am now”, Fenton said in a press release on Friday.
“Probably the highlights are playing in front of friends and family and the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends for life. I know that’s cliché but it’s true.”
Unfortunately Fenton’s professional career has been a story of ups and downs due to his constant injury woes over the past decade.
Fenton’s first major injury would come in the 2013-14 season after a nasty shoulder dislocation against the Western Sydney Wanderers would leave him on the sidelines for a year.
Fenton would leave the Phoenix in 2017 due to fitness and injury issues, having two brief stints with New Zealand Football Championship side Team Wellington and Melbourne Knights, who he had featured for as a teenager after then Phoenix manager Darije Kalezic recommended that he drop down a level to regain fitness.
It would not be long however into his stint with Melbourne Knights that Fenton’s injury woes would once again haunt him, as he suffered a nasty leg break just ten minutes in to his Knights debut.
“It was pretty frustrating because it was one of those injuries that you couldn’t do much about, you know it’s a contact injury and someone decides they want to snap you and your leg goes. But it’s just part of football and I’ve been through it all before,” Fenton said in 2018 to New Zealand outlet Stuff.
Once again, Louis Fenton showed the true grit and determination he has had during his career to overcome injury setbacks and re-joined the Wellington Phoenix ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Despite all the time away from the pitch he has endured, Fenton has turned out for his local side 159 times, making him the fifth highest appearance holder for the Phoenix.
Fenton made 26 appearances during the 2021-22 campaign, helping the Phoenix secure an unlikely top-six finish.
“Maybe 29 is young to be retiring but I feel like in my career I’ve been through a lot. A lot of injuries and a lot of ups and downs
“I feel like I’m going out at a great time while my body’s in decent condition.” Fenton stated.
Fenton has also represented the New Zealand National Team at U20, U23 and senior level.
He represented the New Zealand U20 side at the 2013 U20 OFC championship in Fiji, where after impressive performances, he was voted as the player of the tournament, helping his side secure qualification for the 2013 U20 World Cup in Turkey.
Fenton made his debut for the senior team on 2013, coming on as a substitute in the 50th minute of the second leg of their 2014 FIFA World Cup playoff match against Mexico.
Fenton would go on to feature seven times for New Zealand between 2013 and 2016.
After the announcement of his retirement, Fenton stated that he has no immediate plans to return to the football pitch at this stage and he plans to finish a degree in property management in Brisbane, subsequently returning to Wellington where he and his brother both run a successful barber shop.
“I think I’ll just follow the boys and follow the club. I love the club. I don’t want to get involved in coaching or anything. I just want to support the club.”
“At the moment I’ve got no interest in playing at any level. I’ve given all of my boots away so I’m not playing again anytime soon,” he stated.
Over the course of his 10 year professional career, Fenton has overcome many enormous hurdles and setbacks through sheer determination and mental strength. Combined with his never say die attitude on the football pitch, he has endeared himself to Phoenix and A-Leagues fans, to make him truly go down as a club legend and a fan favourite.