|By MICHAEL HUGUENIN
Former Australia midfielder Vince Grella has retired from football after tearing his calf in his A-League debut for Melbourne Heart on Saturday.
Having signed with Heart in October, Grella took over three months to get on the pitch in a competitive fixture, coming off the bench in his side's 1-0 defeat away to Western Sydney Wanderers.
But having reportedly injured his calf in Saturday's game at Parramatta Stadium, Grella has retired after just 211 minutes of top-flight football in the past two years.
"After 17 years of professional football my body has told me it's enough," Grella said in a statement released by Melbourne Heart on Monday.
"I need to thank [Heart head coach] John Aloisi and the club for giving me a final chance to continue as a professional.
"I felt the club's culture was the perfect place for me to be and it's frustrating I won't have the opportunity to contribute to it and to John's first steps as a coach."
When Grella signed for Heart, Aloisi conceded it was a risk as the 33-year-old defensive midfielder had barely played in his final two seasons with English club Blackburn Rovers before heading to the A-League.
But despite the disappointing outcome, Aloisi remains convinced Grella was worth the risk based on his pedigree of 46 Socceroos caps.
"Vince has been a brilliant contributor to Australian football for a long time," Aloisi said.
"He deserved an opportunity to see if he could resurrect his career and we are proud that we were able to give him that chance.
"We always knew it was going to be a risk, but for me, it was certainly a risk worth taking."
Grella's retirement reduces Heart's depth in midfield as captain Fred is out for at least the next two games with a quadriceps injury.