JETS coach Gary van Egmond said yesterday that there was ‘‘no room for sentimentality in sport’’ as Jobe Wheelhouse left the club with a broken heart.
After numerous reports in the Newcastle Herald that the Jets captain was being pushed out, it was announced yesterday that Wheelhouse had decided to step down immediately and would take a break from football.
The Toronto-Awaba junior was told a week ago by van Egmond that he would not be offered a contract for next season.
Van Egmond first met Wheelhouse as a 17-year-old Australian Institute of Sport graduate in the final days of Newcastle United in the National Soccer League.
Yesterday, van Egmond sat next to the now 27-year-old midfielder to front the media about why his days of representing his home town were over.
‘‘Was it [Australian cricket chairman of selectors] John Inverarity who said there’s no room for sentimentality in sport,’’ van Egmond said. ‘‘It’s tough and we’ve had a look at what we’re going to do moving forward.
‘‘You have a salary cap and you need to stay within the means of that salary cap and you look in regards to the players you have at hand and you make a decision. That’s what we’ve done.
‘‘We could have not said anything until the end of the year and not given Jobe an opportunity to go anywhere else, and it would have looked like we didn’t do the right thing.’’
Wheelhouse’s exit leaves him on 106 A-League games, the third most-capped Jets player after Western Sydney’s Tarek Elrich (134) and Melbourne Heart’s Matt Thompson (121).
Over the past six to 12 months, Wheelhouse said he had gradually fallen out of love with the Jets.
On Wednesday night, he spoke with Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby and Hunter Sports Group chief executive Troy Palmer to inform them of his decision, before he told some senior players yesterday.
The hard-nosed defensive midfielder was shattered to be leaving the club where he was the sole remaining foundation member from the Jets’ inaugural season in 2005-06.
‘‘These things happen in football,’’ said Wheelhouse, who has been paid out for the rest of the season.
‘‘The club didn’t show any indication that they wanted to re-sign me, so I think that’s pretty plain.
‘‘The writing is on the wall.
‘‘My heart’s not here any more. I guess that’s the main thing. I think I’d be cheating myself and cheating my teammates if I were to pick up a pay cheque for something I just wasn’t in it for.’’
Melbourne Heart offered Wheelhouse an attractive offer for the rest of this season and the next, but he turned it down after questioning his passion to continue as a professional footballer.
‘‘I don’t want to go there and just get a pay cheque,’’ the skipper said. ‘‘They made me a really good offer, but I’m not here for the money. It’s never been about the money.’’
But Wheelhouse stressed he was not necessarily retiring from professional football.
‘‘I’ll take a couple of weeks off and try and unwind and soak everything up and hopefully I’ll come to some sort of a decision on where my future lies in the next month or so.’’
Only three weeks ago Wheelhouse held his first coaching clinic at Blackalls Park, and developing juniors is a career path he could follow.
‘‘It’s only in the very early baby steps,’’ he said. ‘‘I have only done the one clinic so far so that’s something I want to pursue, but it will no means be the end of my football.’’
Wheelhouse’s brother Abe walked away from the Jets youth team in September.