Second time lucky: the most notable A-League returnees

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A-League transfers can be a big merry-go-round as many players look to move from club-to-club, but some make the switch back to teams they were formerly part of.

Recently Tim Cahill departed Melbourne City to join the club he made his name at Millwall FC in a bid to play in the 2018 World Cup.

The Football Sack looks at some A-League players and their path towards old stomping grounds by representing their Australian club for a second time.

Kerem Bulut: Joined Western Sydney Wanderers midway through the 2014-15 season and made an immediate impact. He scored a brace on debut against Sydney FC and continued his form, finding the net five times from nine appearances, going at just under two a game.

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He sought a change in scenery despite spending half a season with the Wanderers and made a European move to Greek side Iraklis. He scored just one goal from 17 appearances and left after just one season to seek a fresh start at the Wanderers the very next season.

Bulut spent significantly less time at Western Sydney during his second spell in 2016-17 and didn’t go exactly to plan. He played only six times and couldn’t find a goal. Unfortunately he thought he did against Melbourne City but the flag went up for offside, although Bulut sprinted to the RBB and celebrated jubilantly only to find his goal was disallowed.

He was released again by Western Sydney and has since represented SV Wehen Wiesbade in Germany and Menemen Belediyespor in Turkey, both of whom in their country’s third tier of leagues.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley: Topor-Stanley has been a bit of an A-League journeyman, playing for four different clubs; Sydney FC, Perth Glory, Western Sydney and Newcastle Jets.

The centre-back started at the Sky Blues before being signed by the Jets for the first time, but after 81 appearances he saw an opportunity to join a brand-new club at the time which was Western Sydney ahead of the 2012-13 campaign.

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His most memorable moment would be leading the Wanderers as captain to defeat Al Hilal to win the Asian Champions League. Topor-Stanley proved a reliable contributor for the Wanderers as he went on to make 104 A-League appearances over four seasons.

At the end of the 2015-16 season he took up an offer to join UAE side Hatta Club but only lasted a single season before making his A-League return and to a previous club Newcastle in 2017-18. He’s been influential for what has been an incredible rise of the Jets who appear to be finals bound this season. 

Bruce Djite: Began his senior career at Adelaide United in 2006 and made a decent start as he scored six times from 20 appearances.

After two seasons the striker pursued a move to Genclerbirligi in Turkey where he netted six times from 33 appearances. In similar fashion to his tenure at the Reds Djite lasted two seasons which included a loan spell to Diyarbakirspor.

Djite made an A-League return however it wasn’t at his inaugural Adelaide outfit. Instead he joined up with Gold Coast United and in his only season there scored 10 times from 23 games.

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It prompted the Reds to try obtain Djite’s services again and they did by getting his signature that marked the second-coming.

He stuck with the club as a stalwart for five seasons during 113 appearances and he scored 29 times. His accomplishments were being a crucial member of Adelaide’s first FFA Cup crown and A-League championship. Since his departare at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season he’s gone on to play for Suwon FC in South Korea for one season and currently plays for PSM Makassar in Indonesia.

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Ivan Franjic: Has spent the bulk of his career at Brisbane Roar who gave him his first A-League berth after spending earlier years in the National Premier League of Victoria.

He had a lengthy stay at Brisbane making 115 appearances from 2009-2014 and was part of Roar’s long-term success which saw the club go 36 matches undefeated and claim two premierships to go with three championships.

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Fresh off the back of a 2013-14 championship win, Franjic joined Russian side Torpedo Moscow but that move only saw him muster four appearances in his only season there and swiftly sought a fresh start at Melbourne City.

He had considerably more game-time in Melbourne with 39 appearances but after two seasons he headed overseas once more, this time to Asia to sign with Daegu FC in South Korea. A measly two appearances meant he looked for a move to the club he started at; Brisbane Roar.

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This season at the Roar he made a dream return as he scored a brilliant curling strike in just his second appearance off the bench – impressive considering he was on the pitch for a couple of minutes.

Facts and stats courtesy of ultimatealeague.com

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Liam Watson
Liam Watson
Intern for Melbourne Victory and Media and Communications student at La Trobe University.

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