Haliti: This will always be my home

It might have just been 90 minutes into the existence of the Western Sydney Wanderers but Labinot Haliti figured very quickly that there was something very special about the club. 

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While Haliti admitted there was a sense of relief that the Wanderers very first game in the Hyundai A-League - a 0-0 draw against the Central Coast back in 2012 - was out of the way, he also had a feeling about what was to come during the season.

"I remember that game very well," Haliti, now an assistant coach at the club said.

"The week leading into it was very exciting and there were a few nerves.

"We were not sure how the day would pan out, especially with the fans and all (turning up). There were a lot of questions you had as a player and a fan. 

“In the end, when we got into the change room after the match there was a relief that it was done, but I also think there was a confidence that we were competitive and that we belonged in the league.

“The Mariners were a good team and had some very good players, bigger names than us - we were called rejects - and I think most people expected them to win.

“There was a terrific atmosphere and we built into the game more and more.”

Few would have thought, though, that the two clubs would go on to play such an integral role during the rest of the season

Haliti


Fast forward to Saturday 2 March and a rainy night at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford. 

It's a Round 23 match and the Mariners are at the top of the table, just a point ahead of the Wanderers in what was a horse race for the Premiers Plate. 

"It was another wet night," Haliti recalled.

"To be honest, it was tough going for us. They had plenty of chances and hit the bar, and missed a penalty.

"But, we kept fighting. There was a big crowd and plenty of Wanderers fans and in the end, I htink they fully realised the sort of character within the team."

Haliti


It was Haliti who popped up in the 81st minute to give the Red & Black a 1-0 win. 

The Wanderers went on to claim an historic trophy in the final game of the season, beating Newcastle Jets 3-0 away.

These days, Haliti is thoroughly enjoying himself back at the Wanderers as an assistant coach.

"It is very special. I started here and the club has given me everything," he said. 

"Now I am on the other side so it is a new chapter for me.

"I am the lucky one. This will always be my home."