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Retirement-bound Ninkovic keeping lid on Sydney derby

Milos Ninkovic doesn’t want the fanfare around what could be his last A-League Men Sydney derby – he just wants to win.

Western Sydney midfielder Ninkovic, one of Australian football’s greatest imports, hopes to help extend his career by a few games more when he lines up against his former side Sydney FC on Saturday.

Sitting in sixth on 34 points, the Wanderers need to come out on top in their remaining three regular season games to lock away a finals spot and delay Ninkovic’s impending retirement.

The Serbian product announced in January that he would hang up his boots at the end of the Wanderers’ season.

Switching allegiances after a dispute over his visa status in 2022, Ninkovic was branded a traitor by the Sky Blues faithful when he first went toe-to-toe against his former teammates in Wanderers colours.

Asked about his memories of his first derby on the other side, the 39-year-old played a straight bat.

“That was the past. That was a year ago, even maybe more, and now it’s a totally different situation,” Ninkovic said.

“The first derby was really special because it was the first time that I played against Sydney.

“For me, (this) is just another game. I know that the fans feel different but it’s another three points if you win. Zero points if you lose. Simple as that.”

Should the Wanderers miss out on a finals spot, Ninkovic will have played his last game against his old club come the final whistle on Saturday.

“Maybe it’s going to be my last derby. Maybe they’re going to have a few more but to be honest, I’m not thinking about it,” Ninkovic said.

“I just try, even though I know these will be my last few games. I’m trying to be the best I can be and help my teammates to win the games. That’s all I can I can do now.

“I’m going to be 40 this year. If someone told me when I started that I’m going to be playing until 39, I would probably never believe.

“It was a great journey but now I’m looking forward to other things after when I retire.”

Ninkovic will undoubtedly go down as one of the great overseas signings of his generation after arriving at Sydney FC in 2015.

He is just one of two players in the A-League era – the other being Thomas Broich – to have won the Johnny Warren Medal twice.

The midfield maestro claimed three championships, three premierships and an Australia Cup with the Sky Blues before moving to the Wanderers.

City rivals Sydney and Macarthur, in fourth and fifth respectively, are just one point above Western Sydney while finals hopefuls Melbourne City sit seventh with 30 points.