The W-League’s best imports

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The W-League will be without its star Sam Kerr as she pursues opportunities in Europe this season.

But as Kerr heads overseas, it got us wondering about the players who have travelled in the opposite direction and made the trek down under to play in the W-League.

Taking into account international achievements as well as their impact on the game in Australia, here are the top 10 best foreign imports in the history of the W-League. 

1. Nadine Angerer 

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Debuting for Germany in 1996, Nadine Angerer won several major titles with the national team over the course of her national career.

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Including two World Cups, three Olympic bronze medals and five UEFA European Championships.  

Angerer did not concede a single goal throughout the 2007 World Cup tournament and set the record for most consecutive minutes played without conceding a goal in World Cup play.

She played in two more World Cups in 2011 and 2015 and was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2013 before finishing with 146 caps for Germany.

While her W-League resume only included eight appearances in a single season with the Brisbane Roar in 2014, Angerer remains one of the biggest superstars to play in the league. 

2. Jess Fishlock 

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Likely to be remembered as one of the greatest Welsh players of all time, Jess Fishlock was the first player to earn 100 caps for the Wales national team (male or female) and was named Welsh Footballer of the Year for four years running between 2011 and 2014. 

In the 2018/19 season, Fishlock was a member of Lyon’s treble-winning team, winning the Division 1 Féminine, the Coupe de France and defeating Barcelona 4-1 in the UEFA Champions League final.

Fishlock first joined the W-League with Melbourne Victory for the 2012/13 season and went on to win the premiership and championship double with Victory in 2013/14. 

In 2015 Fishlock moved to crosstown rivals Melbourne City and went on to win three straight W-League championships from 2015 to 2018. She even had a stint as player/head coach in 2017. 

3. Ariane Hingst 

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It’s hard to go past winning a World Cup when compiling a best players ranking, and impossible to ignore a player who has won two. 

Ariane Hingst debuted for Germany in the same match as Angerer against the Netherlands in 1996 and went on to achieve World Cup victory twice as part of the same squad.

Hingst was also involved in Germany’s four UEFA European Championships wins and three Olympic bronze medals in a career that finished with 173 caps for Germany. 

Following Germany’s 2011 World Cup campaign, Hingst finished her footballing career in Australia with a season apiece for the Newcastle Jets and Canberra United from 2011-2013. 

4. Yukari Kinga 

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At number four on our list is yet another World Cup winner. 

City and Canberra defender Yukari Kinga achieved the feat with Japan in 2011, the first Asian team to win a FIFA World Cup. 

Her international career also included a runner-up appearance in the 2015 World Cup and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Spending the majority of her career in Japan, King won the country’s L-League championship eight times between 2005 and 2013. 

Arriving at City in 2017, Kinga joined Fishlock in winning the City’s third straight grand final in 2018.

Other honours include the W-League premiers plate with Canberra in 2016-17 as well as an FA Women’s Cup with Arsenal in 2014. 

Kinga will again feature in the City squad in the upcoming W-League season.

5. Yuki Nagasato 

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Another member of Japan’s victorious World Cup squad in 2011, Yuki Nagasoto would probably rather forget the penalty she missed in the deciding shootout against the USA. 

Luckily for Nagasoto, it did not matter for Japan in the end and she would go on to join Kinga at the 2015 world cup and the 2012 Olympic games. 

Nagasoto’s club honours include two Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Champions League victory with Turbine Potsdam as well as stints at Chelsea, Wolfsburg and Frankfurt. 

Joining the Brisbane Roar on loan from Chicago Red Stars for the 2018/19 W-League season, Nagasoto scored four goals to help the Roar finish as runners up in the league before falling to eventual champions Sydney FC in the semi-finals.

6. Jodie Taylor 

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English striker Jodie Taylor featured at the 2019 World Cup in France as the Lionesses enjoyed a breakthrough campaign, narrowly missing out on a finals appearance after going down to the USA in the semi-finals. 

Taylor scored the winning goal against Argentina in the group stage at the tournament, adding to her tally after previously scoring against Canada at the 2015 World Cup. 

Other career highlights include winning the UEFA European Championship golden boot in 2017 (which led to her being named England’s Player of the Year) and an FA Cup victory with Birmingham. 

Taylor first came to the W-League in 2010, joining Victory for an offseason stint. 

Her achievements in Australia include the golden boot in 2013/14 with Sydney and a W-League championship with City in 2017. 

7. Savannah McCaskill 

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While American striker Savannah McCaskill may not have the international achievements of some of the others on this list, she collected a few W-League honours in the 2018/19 W-League season with the Sky Blues.

McCaskill scored two goals in a 4-2 grand final win against Perth Glory, scooping up player of the match to go alongside her championship medal.

With eight appearances for the USWNT and a nomination for US Soccer’s 2017 Young Female Athlete of the Year, the 23-year-old is one to keep an eye on in the future.

8. Kim Little

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Scottish midfielder Kim Little has earned 137 caps and 59 goals for her national team and helped the team qualify for its first-ever appearance at a World Cup finals in 2019. 

Little was also one of only two non-English players to appear for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, despite opposition from the Scottish FA. 

Currently the captain of Arsenal, Little joined City on loan for the 2015/16 W-League season. 

Little scored nine goals in 12 appearances for City, earning player of the match honours in the team’s win over Sydney in the 2016 grand final. 

9. Christine Nairn 

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American midfielder Christine Nairn has been a long-time stalwart at Victory, returning for her fourth loan spell at the club in 2018/19. 

Finishing the season with seven goals and a premiers medal, Nairn was awarded the Julie Dolan Medal ahead of Sam Kerr to be named Player of the Season, the first foreign import to achieve the award in the league’s history. 

10. Jitka Klimkova and Liesbeth Migchelsen 

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Of course, players are not the only imports to make an impact on the W-League and at number ten we honour two of the league’s best foreign coaches. 

Czech Jitka Klimkova guided Canberra to the 2011/12 championship and premiership double, picking up Coach of the Year for her efforts. 

Liesbeth Migchelsen of the Netherlands picked up the reigns from Klimkova in 2013, guiding Canberra to a premiers plate in her first season before leading the team to its second championship title in the 2014 grand final win over Perth Glory. 

Honourable mentions include: Natasha Dowie, Elise Thorsnes, Sofia Huerta, Katrine Pedersen and Mônica

Feature image credit: Brisbane Roar

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Mathew Perry
Former snowmaker, TomTom salesman and subpar barista giving sports journalism a whirl. QUT Journalism student covering Brisbane Roar FC in the A-League and W-League.