Nigel Boogaard has been around long enough now to know the highs and lows of football life.
And on the eve of notching up his 200th A-League appearance, which includes the inaugural FFA Cup title and a grand final loss almost 10 years ago, the homegrown skipper puts this current vibe at the undefeated Newcastle Jets right up there.
“I’d almost have to compare it to early days when I was at the [Central Coast] Mariners,” he said before making the trip to Adelaide for Saturday’s sixth-round clash with United.
“There’s just this camaraderie within the group. It’s a great bunch of boys and there’s a belief there that we can achieve something.
“We all belive that we have the right recipe to succeed this year, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.
“We’re five games in and it’s been a great start, but we’re nowhere near where we believe we can be in a lot of aspects of the game.
“At the moment there’s just a good buzz and a good vibe around the club so hopefully we can carry that on throughout the season.”
The Dudley-Redhead junior is now 31, husband to wife Kerryn and father to three-month-old daughter Audrey. It’s a far cry from the teenager that debuted off the bench more than a decade ago in the old National Soccer League competition.
“That first taste was only a few minutes, but it was enough for me to go I belong here and I think I can make a career out of this,” he said.
“That was the first time I genuinely believed it and looking back I’m thankful to be given that opportunity at such a young age.
“A lot’s changed [since then]. I’d say I’m a lot more mature these days. I’m a family man, I’ve got a daughter and a beautiful wife.
“Perspective on life changes as you grow and my football knowledge has come a long way. Hopefully what I’ve learned over the last 13 or 14 years as a professional I can pass on now to some of the younger players.”
The central defender started out with the Mariners, originally signed and kept by now Jets chief executive officer Lawrie McKinna despite setbacks. Boogaard then moved to Adelaide for six campaigns before returning to Newcastle from 2015.
The most-capped Jets captain will become the 23rd person to reach the double-century milestone and is one of the few remaining players from the A-League’s inception in 2005-2006.
“It’s exciting times and hopefully there’s a few more years in this body and there’s a few more milestones and achievements to come,” he said.