'I couldn't have scripted it any better': Pararoos legend Pyne calls an end to amazing 20-year career
He’s been a mainstay of the Pararoos for the best part of two decades but Christopher Pyne has confirmed he’s retired from the national team.
Pyne retires having played 103 games for the Pararoos, with the final match in his illustrious career coming in Saturday’s historic 5-0 win against Canada at Cromer Park.
The match was the Pararoos’ first on home soil since the Paralympic Games in Sydney in 2000, where Pyne's incredible career in the green and gold really got going.
“When you look back at the 20, 21 year career there’s certain things which really make you smile,” Pyne told Pararoos.com.au.
“It’s a bit humbling to know you have been able to be competitive at that level for so long. Easily the best thing that’s come of this is that the squad now is ridiculously young and ridiculously talented.
“These young boys are coming of age and I’m proud to say I have had a lot to do with that. I feel like a proud dad to some of these boys.
“I said to the boys ‘it’s a wave, it’s not a goodbye’. The movement behind the Pararoos is too big not to be a part of it. I’m going to be involved in any way, shape or form I can.”
Bowing out with class
While he only informed teammates of his decision to retire on Sunday, Pyne revealed he decided a couple of months ago that Saturday’s match against Canada would be his last.
But in true Pyne style, he wanted to keep it quiet so the focus could be on teammate and close friend David Barber, who brought up his 100th Pararoos cap on the weekend.
“I didn’t want to take anything away from the awesome spectacle that was Saturday evening and David Barber, a true legend of the sport, getting his 100th game,” Pyne said.
“I know what I am missing out on and that’s huge but I also know that now that I’ve gone, I’ve left the squad much better than I found it.
“We’re in a much, much better position now than when I started back in 1999.”
So many highlights, but one stands out
Pyne, 35, became the first Pararoo to bring up 100 caps when the Pararoos took on host-nation Spain at the IFCPF World Cup earlier this year.
He is one of only four men for both the Pararoos and Caltex Socceroos to wear the Green and Gold 100 times, alongside the likes of Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer and now, Barber.
Asked his favourite on-field moment with the Pararoos, Pyne couldn’t go past his milestone appearance at the World Cup, which Australia won 2-0.
“The whole buzz around that game and what it meant to the program as well for our progression through the group stage and it set us up for a better finish,” Pyne said.
“You couldn’t have scripted it better and to have Mark Schwarzer there to watch the Pararoos and para football, it was a bit special.
“I’m truly honoured to have played for so long at this level, for not only the Pararoos but also my country. To be the first [to 100] was something special.
“Through those 100 games, not only on that day but throughout, there’s plenty of memories that I can lay my head on my pillow at night and smile.
“I couldn’t have scripted the end any better either. It was a fabulous occasion on Saturday because everybody there got to find the joy and find the love in what I have for the past 20 years.”
With a second child on the way and working as a primary school teacher, Pyne will have plenty on his plate to keep him busy in retirement.
But he wants to stay involved in the Pararoos program to help make events like Saturday a regular thing.
“To see what it can be and should be like, that’s my next challenge. I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I want the same for these boys as any other national team,” Pyne said.
“I know that’s not going to be easy and funds are hard to come by but if I can offer those sorts of services in any way I can then that’s what I’m going to do.
“And beyond that I’m really happy and looking forward to the challenge that lies in coaching. That’s the future step, the future goal for me.”