The Hyundai A-League is often seen as a stepping stone for young Australian footballers to enter top flight European leagues, so it’s easy to forget just how many players representing our country began their professional careers with domestic clubs.

Three current Hyundai A-League players were included in Bert van Marwijk’s final 23 man squad, but almost every Socceroo has spent time playing in the Hyundai A-League.

The Football Sack breaks down which players you may remember watching on home soil.

Mat Ryan –Central Coast Mariners 2010-13

Brighton and Hove Albion gloveman Mat Ryan has been plying his trade in European leagues for six years now and has established himself as Australia’s first choice keeper. The man tasked with succeeding the legendary Mark Schwarzer began his professional career with the Central Coast Mariners in 2010, earning back to back Young Footballer of the Year awards along with being named A-League Goalkeeper of the Year in 2012.

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Danny Vukovic: – Central Coast Mariners 2005-10, Wellington Phoenix 2010-11, Melbourne Victory 2015-16, Sydney FC 2016-17

Veteran goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will make a valuable addition to the bench alongside Brad Jones. Vukovic has made the second most A-League appearances of all time including over a hundred appearances for Perth Glory and the Mariners. A neat piece of trivia: he’s also the only A-League keeper to have scored a goal.

Aziz Behich – Melbourne Victory 2009-10, Melbourne Heart 2010-13/14

Aziz Behich spent his youth career with Green Gully SC before making his A-League debut for Melbourne Victory in 2010. A left back or winger, he made 65 appearances for Melbourne Heart before shifting to current club Bursapor in Turkey’s Super Lig.

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Matthew Jurman – Sydney FC 2008-11/, Brisbane Roar 2011-13, Sydney FC 2013-17

Wollongong native Matt Jurman enjoyed a successful two stints at Sydney FC, claiming the 2016 player of the year, players’ player, and members player of the year award. An experienced centre back, Jurman spaced his time at the Sky Blues with time at Brisbane Roar and now resides with South Korean side Suwong Samsung Bluewings.

Josh Risdon – Perth Glory 2010-17, Western Sydney Wanderers 2017-18

One of the three Socceroos selected straight from the A-League, right back Joshua Risdon made 142 appearances for Perth Glory before joining Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2017-18 A-League season. The 25 year old also has seven international caps to his name heading into the World Cup.

Trent Sainsbury – Central Coast Mariners 2010-14

Trent Sainsbury began his youth career at Perth Glory before being signed by Central Coast Mariners in 2010. The young defender paired brilliantly with A-League great Patrick Zwaanswijk at the back, helping the Mariners claim their first A-League Grand Final win in 2013. After overseas ventures to the Netherlands and China, Sainsbury has most recently appeared for Grasshoppers in the Swiss Super League.

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Mile Jedinak – Central Coast Mariners 2006-09

Prior to sporting an iconic beard and captaining the Socceroos, A-League fans are likely to first remember Mile Jedinak for his seasons spent with Central Coast Mariners. The midfielder spent his formative years at Sydney United before spending four seasons with the Central Coast side before of course moving on to flourish at Crystal Palace with a captains armband.

Robbie Kruse Brisbane Roar 2007-09, Melbourne Victory 2009-11

Brisbane-born Robbie Kruse began his professional career with Brisbane Roar in 2007 at 19 years of age. After two seasons with the club he shifted to Melbourne Victory where he earned 15 goals across 36 appearances, impressing selectors enough to earn his international debut in 2011 prior to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

Mark Milligan – Sydney FC 2005-08, Newcastle Jets 2008-09, Melbourne Victory 2012-15, Melbourne Victory 2017-18

A-League stalwart Mark Milligan is among the few remaining active players to have played in the first season of the Hyundai A-League. He started with Sydney FC in 2006 and in the same year was the youngest player selected for the world cup in Germany. Milligan was appointed captain of Melbourne Victory in 2013 but abruptly ended his time in the A-League when he signed for Al-Ahli in the Saudi Pro League.

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Aaron Mooy – Western Sydney Wanderers 2012-14, Melbourne City 2014-16

Aaron Mooy was among the three inaugural signings for Western Sydney Wanderers, playing an integral role in the club’s two consecutive A-League grand final appearances. In 2014 he made the move to Melbourne City and was the club’s top scorer for that season, earning himself Melbourne City’s player of the year award too. Mooy became the youngest ever marquee when he signed with City the following year.

Tom Rogic – Central Coast Mariners 2012-13, Melbourne Victory 2014

Celtic superstar Tom Rogic played with ANU FC in the ACT Premier League as a junior and made his A-League debut for Central Coast Mariners in 2012. During his time at Celtic Rogic made a brief A-League return on loan to Melbourne Victory but saw little game time due to a groin injury. That injury also meant the talented goalscorer would miss out on the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2015 AFC Asian Cup, so his chance to shine on the biggest of international stages is certainly overdue.

Daniel Arzani – Melbourne City 2016-18

After blowing everyone away during a stellar 2017-18 A-League season, youngster Daniel Arzani emerged with the Young Player of the Year Award and left little doubt that he would be bound for Russia. The fearless attacking midfielder came through the ranks of Melbourne City’s youth squad before cementing his place on the club’s A-League starting roster.

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Tim Cahill – Melbourne City 2016-17

The Socceroo who needs no introduction, Tim Cahill returned to Australian domestic football in the twilight years of his career but his presence was a massive boost to Melbourne City and the A-League. He scored some memorable goals across his brief 28 appearances in City colours then returning to Millwall in The Championship.

Tomi Juric – Adelaide United 2013, Western Sydney Wanderers 2013-15

After a number of seasons in Croatia Tomi Juric signed for Adelaide United and scored on his debut against Sydney FC. The following season he joined Western Sydney Wanderers on a two-year deal where he enjoyed a successful first season bagging 12 goals in 29 appearances. During this time he showed his capacity to perform on foreign turf, scoring four times in the 2014 Asian Champions League.

Mathew Leckie – Adelaide United 2009-11

This lightning quick winger made his A-League debut for Adelaide United back in 2009. He didn’t remain on Australian turf for long but his time at Adelaide was spent carving out his robust and aggressive playing style. His impressive run at Adelaide helped propel him into the Bundesliga where he’s been developing since 2011.

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Andrew Nabbout – Melbourne Victory 2013-15, Newcastle Jets 2016-18

A dominant season at Newcastle Jets put Andrew Nabbout back on selector radars and birthed a lucrative Japanese offer for the young forward. He made his senior debut for Melbourne Victory in 2012 but never quite reached his full potential under Kevin Muscat. His strength and long range abilities were on full display under Ernie Merrick and Nabbout seems to have settled comfortably in the green and gold.

Dimitri Petratos – Sydney FC 2010-12, Brisbane Roar 2013-17, Newcastle Jets 2017-18

After an immensely impressive season with Newcastle Jets the cries were loud and numerous to get Dimitri Petratos on the plane to Russia. The flashy dribbler thrived under Ernie Merrick and the squad the Scotsman assembled which allowed Petratos to get creative up front. His 94 appearances with Brisbane Roar and early development with Sydney FC ensure his attributes are backed with experience.

Jamie Maclaren: Perth Glory 2013-15, Brisbane roar 2015-17

Jamie Maclaren struggled to earn game time with Blackburn Rovers so the youngster made the decision to return to Australia and signed for Perth Glory at the beginning of the 2013-14 season. In the campaign that followed the striker found his rhythm, scoring 10 goals in 23 appearances including a memorable hattrick against Melbourne City. In 2015 Maclaren moved signed a two-year deal with Brisbane Roar and during his time with the Queensland club was awarded the Young Player of the Year award.

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Bachelor of Journalism student from the University of Wollongong, covering Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2017/18 season.