Kevin Muscat shed tears today as he ended his longstanding tenure as Melbourne Victory coach.
Victory have never known life without Kevin Muscat but soon will, after the four-time A-League champion agreed an exit from the club.
Muscat, the club's foundation captain and longest-serving coach, has decided the time is right to leave the A-League giants and will depart after Wednesday's Asian Champions League (ACL) match with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
That dead rubber is now transformed into an era-ending occasion, with Muscat, captain Carl Valeri and marquee Keisuke Honda to sign off.
Other players will also leave this off-season, but none with Muscat's gravitas.
Arriving at the club in 2005, the on-field bruiser set the tone for Victory's participation - uncompromising, brutal, passionate and above all, successful.
No club has won more titles than Victory; though arch foes Sydney FC matched their haul of four championships on Sunday night when they defeated Perth Glory on penalties in the grand final.
Muscat led Victory on the field to the 2007 and 2009 titles as a player, and masterminded the 2015 and 2018 triumphs as coach.
"I've just got a feeling after 14 years that the time is right for a number of reasons," a clearly emotional Muscat told a packed media conference on Monday.
"It's great that I can sit here and then we (Muscat and Victory representatives) walk out of the room having a celebration. We walk out amicably rather than you guys just receiving a (media) release because we can't sit in the same room together.
"And what next? I don't really know at the moment.
"I'll take the time to go on holiday and that will give me an opportunity to start to focus on what is next."
After winning his fourth title - and second as coach - last season, Muscat convinced the Victory board to support a major tilt for the ACL this campaign.
Victory signed Honda, the club's first Asian star, using a hefty chunk of FFA marquee funds, only for the club to bomb in the continental competition.
Victory lost their opening three games to render the rest of their participation pointless, and those games weighed heavily on their A-League defence.
The same week that Muscat led a threadbare squad to a dead rubber in South Korea, he returned home to Sydney to lose their semi-final against the Sky Blues 6-1 - the club's worst ever defeat.
"It obviously hasn't ended as we would have liked because we like holding trophies," Muscat said.
The famously combative player and coach could not come up with a definitive answer when asked to name the A-League team he most enjoyed beating.
"I can honestly say I never discriminated - I just wanted to beat them all," he said.
"We somehow managed throughout our success on many levels to create rivalries; moreso from other clubs wanting us to be their rival.
"We've set the bar fairly high over 14 years and we make no apologies for that."
Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro said the search for Muscat's successor had already begun "but it's got to be the best possible person".
Muscat is the sixth A-League coach to have left his club this season.
His exit leaves two-season Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick as the league's longest-serving boss.