5 Stars To Have Plied Their Trade In The A-League

Ismail Ansar

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5 Stars To Have Plied Their Trade In The A-League

Australia’s professional football league played out its first-ever season back in 2005-06, and since then, the league has slowly started to become watched more across the world and has gone from strength to strength.

One thing that has definitely helped bring attention to the league is when top players from Europe have made the move to the country – although it is usually ageing stars who are looking for somewhere to wind down and play out the final few years of their career who usually make the move, it can not be underestimated the impact that these player have on the state of Australian football.

These players bring with them not only their talent, but media attention and fans from their previous clubs who are eager to see how their former player is getting on, and this has helped grow the status of the A-League.

Here, we take a quick look at five well-known players who have made the move Down Under and how it worked out for them…

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Alessandro Del Piero: Sydney FC (2012-14)

Alessandro Del Piero is considered to be one of the best forwards that Italy has ever produced, with the striker managing to rack up over 300 career goals and, in the process, picked up six Serie A titles, the Champions League, and the 2006 World Cup.

When Del Piero announced that he would be leaving Juventus in 2012, many did expect him to join a league of less prestige as he wound down his career, but it was still a shock when the Italian announced that his next destination would be Sydney FC in Australia. Del Piero wasn’t able to pick up any silverware during his two seasons at Sydney, but he certainly left his mark on the division.

He scored the only goal in the first-ever Sydney derby between his club and Western Sydney Wanderers, once scored four goals in a single match against Wellington Phoenix and earned multiple individual accolades like the 12/13 A-League Goal of the Season, the Sydney FC Golden Boot in both 2013 and 2014, and a place in the 2013 PFA Team of the Season.

When Del Piero called time on his stint at the club, he left having racked up 24 goals and 11 assists in 48 appearances.

David Villa: Melbourne City (2014)

The legendary Spaniard only played four games for Melbourne City when he joined the club on loan in 2014, but it’s not for his on-field contributions that we are putting him in this list.

That’s not to say that the former Barcelona and Valencia striker didn’t have any impact on the field, leaving with a respectable goalscoring record of two goals in his four appearances - the first goal came on his debut just 15 minutes after being brought on as a substitute against Sydney FC, and the second goal was an 87th equaliser against Newcastle Jets.

But, off the pitch is where Villa made the greatest impact, with estimates that the signing of Villa helped triple the club’s attendance and ticket sign-ups, and manager-at-the-time John van ‘t Schip credited Villa with bringing unprecedented media attention to the club.

Robbie Fowler: North Queensland Fury (2009-10) & Perth Glory (2010-11)

The Liverpool legend was brought to Australia in 2009 by ambitious new side North Queensland Fury and made a great start to his career in the A-League, scoring a penalty in his side’s first competitive match.

Fowler would go on to score nine goals and register four assists in his 26 appearances that season, which helped him in picking up the club’s Player of the Year, Player’s Player of the Year and the club’s Golden Boot at the end of the season.

The Fury soon found themselves in financial trouble though, and Fowler’s contract at the club was terminated before the start of the new season. He then joined Perth Glory in time for the 2010-11 season and would finish the season as the club’s top scorer with nine goals, but elected to call time on his spell in the division at the end of the season and left to join Thai side Muangthong United.

Robbie Fowler

Dwight Yorke: Sydney FC (2005-06)

The second player in this list to play for Sydney FC, former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke was signed by the club for the inaugural season of the A-League.

Yorke helped bring silverware to Sydney and, with the biggest pedigree of any player in the division, serious media attention to the league during his single season in Australia. Such was Yorke’s draw that Australia’s football governing body, Football Australia, decided to use Yorke’s name and image for the promotion of the A-League’s second season.

Yorke would end the season with seven goals to his name in 13 outings for the club, playing an important role in leading his side to victory in the inaugural A-League Grand Final against their regional rivals Central Coast Mariners.

Emile Heskey: Newcastle Jets (2012-14)

After being released from Aston Villa in 2012, Emile Heskey opted to sign for Australian club Newcastle Jets for the 2012-13 season on a one-year deal.

It would turn out to be an impressive season for Heskey, who would go on to finish the campaign with nine goals to his name and earn a nomination for the club’s Player of the Year award.

As a result of his impressive form, the club decided to offer the Englishman another one-year deal for the 2013-14 season. However, Heskey would not replicate the form that had convinced the club to offer him another deal in his second season, scoring just a solitary goal in 19 outings. Heskey would leave the club at the end of the season, making a return to English football with Bolton Wanderers.

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