APIA Leichhardt Tigers star and former NPL NSW Men’s Player of the Year Sean Symons has revealed his side’s incredible championship triumph has been the greatest highlight in his football career to date.
The winger was crowned Robbie Slater Medal winner as man of the match in APIA’s 2-1 extra-time victory against Sydney United 58 at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday scoring the winning goal with a sublime lobbed finish.
The win was third time lucky for APIA who had suffered back to back grand final heartbreak after suffering defeats in the 2017 and 2018 deciders.
Symons, who played a key role in all of APIA’s grand final appearances, said while the win was a long time coming, it was vindication for all the sacrifice and hard work made by his Tigers teammates to achieve championship glory.
“This APIA team is an incredible group and to finally breakthrough after everything we’ve been through makes it extra special,” Symons said.
“We all just wanted the win so badly and there was no way we were going home as grand final losers for a third straight year.
“To be able to lift the trophy with the team in front of our fans is something I won’t ever forget.”
After a roller coaster 90 minutes, the match was on a knife edge with both sides battling to snatch a winner.
The flash point arrived only four minutes into extra-time with Symons the man on the spot to score the historic goal.
“I saw Manos rushing out from his goal and thought to myself as long as I get to the ball first I’ll be a good chance of scoring,” he said.
“Payney (APIA striker Chris Payne) put the ball into space after Franco (Parisi) won a key header so I just did everything I could to get in a good position
“Watching the ball hit the back of the net was an incredible feeling and from that point I was confident we were going to get the job done.”
The pacy winger wasn’t the only Symons family member to put in a stellar performance for APIA with his brother Josh Symons making an incredible return from a hamstring injury suffered only a week before the grand final to play a huge role in the decider.
The chance to share Championship success with his brother made the result even sweeter for Sean.
“It was an incredible effort from Josh to fightback from injury and he had an incredible game for us at the back,” Symons said.
“To have him out there on grand final day and then to lift the trophy together was a great moment.”
“I’m looking forward to a bit of a break in the off-season but next season hopefully we can come back and do it all over again.”