Noel Bailie can wrestle with Portadown in tomorrow’s Irish Cup final knowing it won’t be the final act of his glittering Linfield career.
The Belfast Telegraph understands that Bailie will be offered a new one-year contract by the Blues when the season ends.
After he clocked up an amazing 1,000 appearances for Linfield, the centre-back said he wanted to remain at Windsor Park next season and manager David Jeffrey clearly still feels that his skipper can help guide the team to a 50th league championship.
The 39-year-old, who joined Linfield in 1986, has seen the sands of time slowly disappear, but his recent performances have underlined his value to the team.
Bailie’s experience, organisation and leadership skills helped steady a Linfield ship which hit a storm earlier in the season.
And the reward for his assured performances is another 12-month deal that will extend his love affair with the Blues.
Jeffrey will once again rely on his skipper to help team-mates win an Irish Cup final for the first time when Portadown arrive at Windsor Park tomorrow.
Bailie is going for his seventh Irish Cup triumph, but, like his manager, he has enough experience in the game to know that nothing can be taken for granted.
“It’s very much who performs better on the day,” said Jeffrey.
“It’s 11 v 11 with all the players having two arms and two legs each!
“Coleraine played very well against us in 2008, but two goals from Peter Thompson won it for us. Dungannon Swifts took us to penalties in 2007 when they also played very well. It comes down to marginal things and you can never tell what is going to happen.
“I could go on about so many cup shocks from Wimbledon beating Liverpool to Sunderland beating Leeds United.
“I know we will have the tag as favourites as we have won the league, but it counts for nothing.
“Portadown were excellent when they beat Larne in the 2005 final and Ronnie McFall’s sides will always be hard to beat.
“A lot of our players have not won an Irish Cup, but they will get the big day out at the end of the season and we will see how they cope. It’s a challenge for them to rise to.”