Bolton The Ultimate Professional - van 't Schip

Milestones by their very nature are rather uncommon.

Milestones by their very nature are rather uncommon.

But in the case of Melbourne Heart FC goalkeeper Clint Bolton, they have been reached with rather peculiar regularity over the past two months.

Since claiming the record for appearances by a goalkeeper in the National Soccer League and Hyundai A-League, the former Socceroo has gradually worked his way through the all-time list, moving beyond the marks of Damian Mori and Sergio Melta.

This weekend, Bolton is poised to claim another scalp as he looks to play his 453rd game and climb above South Melbourne great Paul Trimboli to claim second spot on the all-time appearance list, an achievement which is both a testament to his professionalism and longevity.

Indeed, Bolton-s commitment to preparation and maintaining an elite level of performance has earned praised from head coach John van ‘t Schip, who described the Bundaberg-native as “one of the most professional players” he has seen in his three-decade long career as a player and coach.

“He-s presence is so important for the team,” van ‘t Schip said. “He-s experience gives the other players a lot of confidence and he plays every game at a high level.”

Bolton maintained his trademark humility when quizzed over his achievement, preferring to concentrate on the immediate challenges which lie ahead.

With Heart set to face Perth Glory, Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar in quick succession, the coming week looms as a potentially season defining period for the Red and White.

“It-ll test us. If it-s like today-s [weather] we can get through it but if it-s steaming hot, who knows?,” Bolton said. “But this little period here will gauge whether we are top of the table or mid-table.”

While Heart was within a game of the league leading Mariners only last week, Bolton maintains his side remain firmly in arrears of the Central Coast and reigning premiers Brisbane Roar.

But Bolton acknowledges Heart-s form over the last two months has indicated the team possesses the potential to make a challenge for the crown.

“Brisbane and Central Coast, they are the real deal and that-s what we-re striving to be. Most games they make a statement,” Bolton said.

“So we-re probably just below those teams but my mind is firmly focused on having a run at the championship.

“We got a sniff but I-d hate to think we come to the end of the season and look back and say, ‘what if?-”