Where are they now? Inaugural season stars

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It’s been 13 years since the A-League kicked off for the first time back in 2005. Alex Brosque, Matt McKay and Vince Lia are a few of the names who are still toughing it out over a decade later, but whatever happened to some of the other greats who graced the inaugural season?

The Football Sack takes a look at some of the original A-League’s best to find out where their footballing careers have landed them.

Bobby Despotovski (Perth Glory)

Perth great Bobby Despotovski was one of the A-League’s leading goalscorers during the 2005-2006 season and became the competition’s first recipient of the Johnny Warren medal.  After a second season with Glory was somewhat stifled by a re-occurring back injury, Despotovski finished up his playing career with NPL Western Australia side Inglewood United, collecting 25 goals in 34 appearances for the club. Those who keep an eye on the W-League will recognise the former striker as the current Perth Glory women’s team coach, a role he took in 2015. Prior to this Despotovski had a stint as Perth Glory U20’s coach in the NPL.

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Damian Mori (Perth Glory, Queensland Roar, Central Coast Mariners)

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Damian Mori was a veteran by the time the A-League was born and football really started gaining traction in the country, so his impressive domestic and international career often slips under the radar. Mori capped 45 times for Australia from 1992 to 2002, scoring 29 goals and was part of an Olyroos squad that ended up just shy of a medal at the Barcelona Olympics. The forward played for Perth Glory in the inaugural A-League season, before shifting between Adelaide City as a player-coach, Queensland (Brisbane) Roar, and Central Coast Mariners before hanging up the boots in 2011. He now resides as coach at Adelaide City in NPL South Australia.

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Dwight Yorke (Sydney FC)

The most recognisable name on this list, Dwight Yorke still remains one of the biggest international marquees to play in the A-League. After reaching stardom at Aston Villa and Manchester United, he led Sydney FC to the inaugural title then returned to the EPL for Sunderland until his retirement in 2009. Yorke has been in his fair share of tabloid drama over the years, his latest over a very messy custody split with his ex partner and model Katie Price. He’s still active in the football community too, making regular appearances as a Sky Sports pundit.

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Stewart Petrie (Central Coast Mariners)

Stewart Petrie signed for Central Coast Mariners for the inaugural season in a coaching role, but a bundle of injuries on season’s eve meant Petrie would register as a player. His years in the Scottish Premier League proved useful; Petrie scored 8 goals for the Mariners and was a key part of their inaugural season campaign to the grand final. Petrie retired from playing in 2009 and went on to enjoy a humble managerial career primarily in Scottish League Two. He’s currently at the helm of Montrose F.C, a club based in a quiet Scottish village with a population of around 11,000.

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Dean Heffernan (Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Heart, Perth Glory, Western Sydney Wanderers)

Heffernan was a versatile left back for Central Coast Mariners inaugural season. A promising youngster, he earned a pair of Socceroos call-ups and continued to excel at the Mariners up until leaving the club in 2010 to join Melbourne Heart. He went on to sign for Perth Glory and notch two seasons in the Chinese Super League.  In 2013 he signed for Western Sydney Wanderers for a season before calling an end to his playing career. In 2017 Heffernan was a pioneer behind Central Coast United FC, an extension of Central Coast Football Academy. The club launched into its first season this year, Heffernan is eager to coach them to NPL promotion.

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