North Queensland Fury veteran Middleby to swap playing for front office role

Robbie Middleby will hang up his boots after tonight's game against Gold Coast United to take charge of football operations at North Queensland Fury.

Robbie Middleby will hang up his boots after tonight's game against Gold Coast United to take charge of football operations at North Queensland Fury.

Middleby decided on Thursday to end his playing career after three months of weighing up whether his 34-year-old body could continue.

''I think the day after the game it might hit me, but at the moment it's still all a bit surreal,'' Middleby, who will play his 112th A-League game tonight, told the Townsville Bulletin. ''At the moment it feels like any other game, which I think is a good thing.

''I sat down with the kids (on Thursday) and again went through it with them and said exactly what's happening and for them it's a big thing, which is good, but for me I don't think it will sink in until a few days later.''

Humble by nature, Middleby wants little fanfare to commemorate a career that has included two premierships and five international caps for the Australia Socceroos.

But his teammates have vowed it won't slip by without a whimper. Skipper and Fury marquee Robbie Fowler said Middleby deserved to go out a winner.

''It would be magnificent for him,'' the striker said.

''He's not said 'do this for me' - and obviously we want to go out to win anyway - but obviously the added incentive is it's his last game, he's respected by the lads, and it would be nice for him to go out on a high.''