Top 10 A-League marquee players of all time
Alessandro Del Piero is indisputably the biggest signing to ever come to Australia; he is hands down the biggest name that will ever grace our shores.
This arrival will generate mainstream media for the sport like no other; he is the definition of a true marquee player.
The FFA defines the marquee player as a “player whose salary would be allowed to be outside the salary cap on the grounds that he would bring value to the club and league both on and off the field.”
The A-League, now in its eighth season, has had some big names over the years, all of which have had a part to play in the growth of our game. To compile a list on the best marquee players of the A-League a few key indicators must be used:
They should be judged on:
a. Their ‘star factor’ – this being their reputation, their appeal to a non-footballing fan
b. Their on-field contribution – how they performed in their A-League stint/s
c. Their off-field contribution – media prominence, sponsor appearances, crowd influence
So here goes my list of the Top 10 A-League marquee recruits:
10. Marcos Flores – Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory
Star Factor: 6.5/10. On-Field: 10/10. Off-Field: 7/10
Johnny Warren medallist Marcos Flores is a massive coup for the Melbourne Victory. He is clearly a proven performer at A-League level after winning the league’s MVP award and leading Adelaide United into a solid finals campaign.
Gifted with pure South American talent, the Argentine has a knack for goals to complement his exquisite passing ability.
On a reported $500,000 a year deal, Victory will be hoping for more off-field impact to complement his ability on-field to maximise their investment.
After an inconsistent stint in China, Flores will be hungrier than ever to back up his previous performances down under; he has a name to live up to after making one for Adelaide United.
9. Craig Moore – Brisbane Roar
Star Factor: 7/10. On-Field: 8/10. Off-Field: 6/10
While it is hard to justify a defender in this top 10 list, Craig Moore’s contribution to the Brisbane Roar and the A-League was highly productive.
Winning his club’s best and fairest award two years running, Moore offered guidance and experience to a youthful Roar backline. His influence and commitment on-field was rarely questioned and the former Socceroo was a rock in defence.
Craig was one of the few returning Socceroos able to contribute on the field to a level that was required. His quality was evident on and off the park.
8. Fred – Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Heart
Star Factor: 6/10. On-Field: 9/10. Off-Field: 6/10
Much in the mould of Marcos Flores, Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva, more commonly known to fans as ‘Fred,’ came to Australia with little reputation.
With his grand final winning season at Melbourne Victory, he quickly became a household name in Melbourne after his game breaking performance.
Throughout his time for the Victory he scored, set up and sprinted all game, earning a lucrative move to the US after this.
The Melbourne Heart landed the biggest blow to their cross town rivals when bringing this playmaker back to Melbourne town, however this time in the Red and White.
Already being named in numerous teams of the season in his debut season with the Heart, with a full pre-season and better run with injuries, a Johnny Warren medal is not unachievable.
7. Brett Emerton – Sydney F.C
Star Factor: 8/10. On-Field: 7/10. Off-Field: 8/10
Sydney FC’s answer to Harry Kewell last season was this far more humble man from Bankstown. Brett Emerton joined the A-League shortly after Harry’s more glamorous and highly publicised arrival, he was the man to match Harry on and off the field.
While not attracting the sort of attention off the field as Harry, the former Blackburn Rovers man became far more media savvy in Sydney.
Starting off slowly on the pitch, like Harry, Emerton came barnstorming home for Lavicka’s men, playing into form while Sydney sealed a finals spot.
Coming directly from the EPL, Emerton was another coup for this league, which was down and out before last season.
This Socceroo legend will offer far more this year alongside Italian footballing god Alessandro Del Piero.
6. Jason Culina – Gold Coast United
Star Factor: 7.5/10. On-Field: 9/10. Off-Field: 6/10
Jason was the first Socceroo from Guus Hiddink’s golden boys to come home from Europe in the peak of their powers.
While previously legends like Aloisi and Moore had come back as plus 30 year olds, Culina came back at the ripe young age of 28.
Coming straight from Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven, Culina made an instant impact for the Gold Coast United.
Captaining the side to finals, he was a goal scorer, playmaker and defensive cover in one. It is a shame that the club folded, and Jason left severely injured.
The Newcastle Jets signed him only to release him after these injury issues. Let’s hope that poor Jason has some good footballing left in him.
5. Robbie Fowler – North Queensland Fury, Perth Glory
Star Factor: 8/10. On-Field: 7/10. Off-Field: 7.5/10
‘God’ was the name given to Robbie Fowler after his exploits for the mighty Liverpool Football Club, the Englishman was a genuine legend in the UK and abroad.
North Queensland Fury broke the bank to lure God to the tropics but it was questioned if it was the right fit for both parties.
While Fowler attracted crowds everywhere he played, the lack of a footballing market in the far North hurt his impact at home games.
He moved to Perth Glory after the Fury’s extinction and early on had huge effects. Crowds were high and he was scoring goals. However a stint of poor form for both him and the Perth Glory left the ‘Fowler Factor’ a dying trend, paving the way for his move to Thailand.
Robbie Fowler was slightly past his peak, but did offer some gorgeous moments, like his volley against Sydney FC at the SFS when playing for the Fury.
4. Harry Kewell – Melbourne Victory
Star Factor: 9/10. On-Field: 6.5/10. Off-Field: 10/10
Dubbed ‘Bigger than Ben Hur’ upon his arrival – well, the saga in which he arrived – Socceroo and Australian sporting icon Harry Kewell was home to ‘repay the fans.’
Okay, so on-field he was a self-described ‘underachiever’ after a poor season with the Melbourne Victory, though he did show glimpses towards the seasons latter parts.
His off-field presence was huge, making regular appearances in all things glitz and glamour. Crowds and TV numbers were boosted by the sheer presence of Kewell.
The man did get the game back in the newspapers, he was a media and marketing jackpot. This all ended badly however with numerous disputes, tensions and unconfirmed reports of unpaid rent and debts.
Bigger than the game, larger than life, maybe just take it easy Harry. Harry is now in the UK, still without a club.
3. Archie Thompson – Melbourne Victory
Star Factor: 6/10. On-Field: 10/10. Off-Field: 8/10
On-field Archie is the man. No other marquee player has performed at this level on such a consistent level. Year after year, Archie has been the go-to man for the Melbourne Victory since his arrival in season one.
He is the second all-time A-League top scorer and has developed his own cult following in Melbourne, with his laid back and extremely likeable demeanour.
Coming from Belgian club Lierse, Archie, an on-and-off Socceroo, has won over a legion of fans in the A-League. For this the man deserves a massive pat on the back. He is arguably the A-League’s most successful player.
2. Dwight Yorke – Sydney F.C
Star Factor: 9/10. On-Field: 8/10. Off-Field: 8/10
Undeniably the biggest foreign marquee of the A-League until now, ‘All Night Dwight’ lit up our local league in its inaugural season. The former Manchester United strike man was the indisputable poster boy for the A-League’s debut season.
Dwight delivered on the field with his performances taking Sydney FC all the way to the championship and also off the field with his appearances on the nightclub circuit bordering on legendary.
A polite, well-spoken player, Dwight did what he needed to do, however a second season would have really helped the league. He managed to set the bar for a marquee recruit; however this was, sadly, rarely met by other clubs.
1. Alessandro Del Piero – Sydney F.C
Star Factor: 10/10. On-Field: N/A. Off-Field: 10/10
Okay call me crazy naming this Italian footballing legend as our best ever marquee player, but the impact that he has already made in a series of days has been astronomical.
Already, off-field Sydney FC have recorded their largest ever membership sales in one single day. Articles have been written left, right and centre and ‘Alessandro Del Piero’ on Twitter is recording Tweets almost every minute.
This prediction is more out hope, but how can you write off a man who has played for Italy and is coming off fresh from a Serie A season with Juventus.
He is a true professional and his on-field impact only has to be half of the present off-field impact to be a success. He is our David Beckham.
Honourable mentions must go to Nick Carle, John Aloisi, Shane Smeltz, Mile Sterjovski, Sergio Van Djik and, the most recently upgraded to marquee status, Brisbane Roar’s Thomas Broich.
A top 10 worst list would be a far more easier task. Who do you think have been our best marquee players?