Isaías Sánchez will become just the second player to reach 200 games for Adelaide United when he takes the field against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
Fittingly, the occasion – an Original Rivalry – matches the milestone, for one of the Club’s most influential and integral players.
Only Eugene Galeković has accumulated more appearances for the Reds and there is a genuine chance his feat of 281 matches will never be eclipsed.
Isaías joined Adelaide ahead of the 2013/14 season and was the epitome of consistency, elegance and class in the six years that followed.
During his first stint, the Spaniard, who would later become a naturalised Australian in January 2019, went on to amass 181 appearances, score 10 goals and collect a catalogue of team and individual honours.
Enshrined in Reds folklore, Isaías will eternally be synonymous with the 2016 Grand Final where the maestro curled a free-kick into the top corner in front of more than 50,000 fans at Adelaide Oval.
He won a Club-record four Aurelio Vidmar Medals, a Premiership and Championship double in addition to two FFA Cups in 2014 and 2018.
In 2017, he took over the captaincy and wore the armband with pride for his final two years before making the tough decision to leave.
There have been too many games to keep track of his brilliance and you begin to run out of superlatives to describe them all. From dragging the team on his back and inspiring that famous 4-3 comeback win over Brisbane Roar to just consistently dropping top-class performances week after week in his prime – you just have to admire his level of dedication and quality.
But for all the glory, the midfielder has always remained extremely humble and is the ultimate professional and team player, while possessing that ultra-competitive streak needed to drive success.
In May 2019, the former Espanyol man farewelled the city he had called home for more than half a decade and would subsequently move to Qatari-based side Al-Wakrah.
Two years in the Middle East and in the midst of a pandemic, Isaías decided it was time to return to Australia, specifically Adelaide.
He signed a three-year contract in August last year and has occupied the base of the midfield alongside fellow experienced Spaniard, Juande and at times Louis D’Arrigo.
Now 35, Isaías may not be as quick as he once was, mind you his pace was never his strongest attribute. But what he lacks in speed, Isaías more than compensates with his tactical awareness and positional sense.
The Spaniard was carrying a niggle in the middle of the campaign and even missed a couple of matches because of that injury. A pair of suspensions, one for an accumulation of yellow cards and the other for a second caution in the same match incidentally against Victory, impacted his rhythm and ability to find that consistency we have certainly taken for granted.
But over the past month, Isaías is beginning to get back to his best – playing the full 90 minutes in his previous four games.
The midfield general will be pivotal in United’s charge towards a top-three finish – something certainly attainable if they can win the majority of their remaining six league games. Five of which are at Coopers Stadium.
That indeed begins on the weekend in a highly-anticipated Original Rivalry.
While Isaías is already unequivocally considered one of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of Adelaide United, this book has not finished. There is still more to tell as he writes his own Reds story.
There may be few chapters left to tell, but here’s hoping we’re left intrigued until the end.
An extraordinary player and one who has given a lot for this badge. Appreciate him while you still can because it will be a sad say when he eventually retires.