Members of Australia’s ‘golden generation’ have returned home to the A-League with large expectations and while some delivered on the anticipation, others eventually ended their time in the league in less than ideal circumstances.

The Football Sack has taken a look at four legends of Australian football and their plights or triumphs in the A-League.

Vince Grella

Grella joined Melbourne Heart (now City) in 2012 off the back of an illustrious career in both Italy and England that spanned 14 years.

The defensive midfielder was a vital member of both the Socceroos and his club sides throughout his playing tenure. However, as his career wore on he began to struggle with ongoing injuries and during his later years in England was only able to amass 45 appearances across four seasons with Blackburn Rovers.

Embed from Getty Images

“I have one regret from my football career, which is persisting and not seeing the writing on the wall during my four-year period in England,” he said.

Grella’s A-League career unfortunately lasted a mere 22 minutes in Heart colours. A few days later he would announce his retirement citing ongoing injuries and a torn calf that occurred during his A-League debut.

Josh Kennedy

Kennedy carved out a reputable professional career in Germany and then Japan before heading home to the A-League in 2015 with Melbourne City. Kennedy’s finest years were in the J-League where he earned back-to-back golden boots playing for Nagoya Grampus. Kennedy famously scored a match winner for the Socceroos against Iraq in 2013 to seal Australia’s spot in the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil.

Embed from Getty Images

Kennedy played in 12 matches during his short stint in the A-League scoring two goals in the process. City’s 14/15 semi-final defeat to Melbourne Victory would be his last minutes as a professional footballer with the striker electing to hang up the boots at the end of that season.

Lucas Neill

Neill is undoubtedly one of this countries greatest exports and performers in the green and gold. His brief time in the A-League however was a far cry from the dizzying heights that he had experienced previously.

Neill signed with Sydney FC off the back of a rough two years in the UAE Pro League and immediately made headlines for the wrong reasons after reportedly back-flipping on joining Melbourne Heart hours before being unveiled as a Sydney player.

Embed from Getty Images

Neill would ironically make his debut against Heart in Round 22 of the 12/13 A-League season, starting and playing 90 minutes in a 3-1 loss. His debut would be one of only three appearances for the Sky Blues with ongoing injuries hampering his time back in Australia.

Post Sydney Neill would play in the J-League and then England’s Championship in his unsuccessful tilt at selection for the 2014 World Cup.

Josip Skoko

After spending 15 years abroad in Croatia, Belgium, Turkey and England Skoko made the final stop of his career with Melbourne Heart for their inaugural season in the A-League. Skoko would go on to make 22 appearances for Heart across his final season as a professional footballer retiring on the same day as another famous former Socceroo and then teammate, John Aloisi.

Embed from Getty Images

Skoko has stated his desire for changes to the A-League since his retirement, indicating a lack of passion when compared to the days of the National Soccer League (NSL).

“The A-League has done many good things and has its strong points, but it has also stunted the growth of a lot of professionals,” he said.

“Where we went overseas and toughed it out at times, players get comfortable in the A-League and sometimes get stuck in there and don’t strive to get to the next level.

“We had a burning desire to be the best we could and that’s been taken away, which is disappointing.”

Statistics courtesy of ultimatealeague.com

SHARE
Josh is a student journalist at the University of Queensland currently covering Brisbane Roar's 17/18 season.