The five most influential A-League international marquees of all time

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Attracting the right international marquee is harder than it looks.

They not only need to tick the boxes on the field in producing the goods but must tick them off the field and do their bit to attract the masses.

It’s a difficult balance to satisfy and is why some clubs have filled this spot with a lesser known who better fits the team’s system.

Not every international marquee has been a hit, just ask Melbourne City, but here are some who with this status rose to the cream of the crop.

  1. Alessandro Del Piero.

It’s very hard to go past Del Piero as the most influential international marquee seen in the A-League.

Coming to the A-League at 37-years-old,  the 2006 World Cup winner did not put a foot out of place, immediately dismissing fears he would turn out like Brazilian legend Romario a few years before.

Del Piero headlined a trio of big-name marquees brought into the league and made all of his 48 appearances must-see, scoring 24 goals. This quality was none more so epitomised than when he put four past the Wellington Phoenix in a 7-1 win.

He became the highest paid footballer to play in Australia and rightly so. In two seasons he became Sydney FC captain in addition to earning a place in Sydney’s and the AFC team of the decade.

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  1. Besart Berisha

Love him or loathe him it would have been difficult to pass up on the opportunity to have Besart Berisha in your team.

He was the ultimate pantomime villain.

While Berisha did not occupy the marquee spot at the Brisbane Roar, he was appointed as Melbourne Victory’s ahead of the 2014/15 season and played a pivotal role in the side’s last two Championships in addition to being the first player to score 100 A-League goals.

Berisha lifted for the big occasions.

Whether it was scoring a hat-trick in his inaugural Melbourne derby or in Grand Finals he was the first to rise to the occasion and was sure to drag everyone else alongside him.

He may not have had the status of a Del Piero or Keisuke Honda but at Victory Berisha became a household name and a fan favourite.

  1. Dwight Yorke

Yes, another goal scorer.

But it would be very difficult to leave Dwight Yorke off this list, considering what he was able to achieve in one season.

Yorke has arguably had the biggest influence on the league as a marquee.

Recruited as the A-League’s first genuine star he played a major role in attracting 19,648 on average to Sydney FC home games as well as being used by the FFA in promoting the league.

On the field, Yorke scored seven goals and provided the assist to Steve Corica’s goal which decided the 2005/06 Grand Final.

He was appointed as Sydney’s inaugural captain and was played up front as well as in midfield.

Yorke played so well in his only season he was invited to return to the Premier League when he signed for Sunderland United ahead of the 2006/07 season.

  1. Shinji Ono

If Berisha was the A-League’s pantomime villain, Ono was the hero.

It didn’t take long for the Japanese midfielder to become a fan favourite at the Western Sydney Wanderers who signed Ono as their marquee in the club’s inaugural season.

Ono was influential in getting the Wanderers off the ground, acting as the club’s first star attraction who was then able to justify his status.

He was a part of the Wanderers team which won the Premiership and fell short in two Grand Finals.

His brace against Melbourne Victory is remembered as one of his best performances while in the A-League and alongside Del Piero headlined the inaugural Sydney derby.

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  1. Diego Castro

Signing at a time when the club was drifting into obscurity Diego Castro got Perth Glory fans believing again.

Straight out Getafe in La Liga, he had the best impact one could in their first season winning both the Alex Tobin award and Johnny Warren medal and continues to be one of the league’s most consistent players.

It is incredible to reflect on the impact Castro has had at Perth and in the A-League considering the Glory was his first club outside of Spain, indicating his ability to adapt and do so quickly.

Now at 36, Castro was appointed captain for the 2018/19 season and while he is yet to feature in any league matches it is expected the Glory will reach new heights with him in the team.

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Athos Sirianos
Athos Sirianos
RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.

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