Where are they now: Western United’s inaugural squad

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Western United’s inaugural A-League Men season in 2019/20 was one to remember with the expansion side finishing in fifth place and making it all the way through to a semi-final against Melbourne City.

This article will explore where the key players in that squad are today and where they have gone in the seasons since.

Coach: Mark Rudan

Rudan was sacked following two seasons in charge of the green and black. A poor end to the 2020/21 season saw Western finish in 10th place, paving the way for a coaching change. The Sydney-based coach has since found a new home, being appointed manager of Western Sydney Wanderers in January 2022.

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Filip Kurto

The Polish goalkeeper was brought across to the expansion side by Rudan from his old side Wellington Phoenix. After two solid seasons, he followed the coach out the door and now plays his football for Macarthur FC.

Ersan Gülüm

Gülüm played the majority of his career in Turkey and China, before making the move to Tarneit in 2019. He played 29 games for the club and moved onto Antalyaspor in the Turkish first division. As of now, he is currently listed as a free agent.

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Brendan Hamill

One of few players to have played for all three clubs in Victoria, Hamill struggled for game time across his spell at United. The former Melbourne Heart junior now plays for Melbourne Victory and has had an impressive season to date.

Tomoki Imai

The Japanese defender came to Australia after an extensive career in the J-Leagues. He has been nothing short of outstanding since his arrival in Australia, and is still currently a mainstay in the starting XI at Western United. He has made 54 appearances for the club and is a sneaky chance for player of the year.

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Josh Risdon

The right-back was the club’s first signing, making the move from Western Sydney. He has been a mainstay in defence and was recently promoted to vice-captain.

Dario Jertec

You may be forgiven for not remembering the name, but Jertic played 15 times in the inaugural campaign. The Croatian defensive midfielder was not a raging success, and retired following his one-season stint at the club.

Panagiotis Kone

Kone was a high-profile marquee signing that never lived up to the hype in his one and only season in the league. He played 15 times for the club but never quite looked like the player who was a mainstay in Serie A and played in UEFA competitions. He is now retired from professional football.

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Steven Lustica

After initially struggling for game time in his first few seasons, Lustica has developed into an integral member of the starting XI under current head coach, John Aloisi. He has scored five goals and assisted one more in just 21 games this season.

Max Burgess

Another player brought across from Wellington by Rudan, Burgess was a great addition to the squad. Unfortunately, following a contract stand-off and Covid-relocation difficulties, he sat out of the 2020/21 season, and forced through a move to Sydney FC the following year.

Alessandro Diamanti

What can be said about the Italian that hasn’t been said already. The iconic 38 year-old star still captains the club and is looking to add an A-League Men medal to his collection of accolades from a tremendous career.

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Connor Pain

Another player who has found a home in the Western suburbs, Pain has developed into a critical cog in the Western line-up. Despite interest from South-East Asia over the winter, the Victorian remains at Western United as they battle for a top-two finish in the league.

Dylan Pierias

The pacey attacker remains at the club, and is one to watch over the next year or two as he has the potential for a career in Europe.

Besart Berisha

The Albanian striker came across from Melbourne Victory and despite retiring, is still the club’s record goal scorer. His fiery personality was a perfect match with coach Mark Rudan, and was a large reason for the success in their inaugural season.

Scott McDonald

The former-Celtic marksman came across to add firepower to Western. He only managed one goal and one assist in his nine games for the club, before being released midway through the season. He now coaches at NPL level in Queensland.

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Dillon Izon
Marketing graduate at Monash University. Sports addicted, fan of Manchester United and Melbourne City. My gran “knows” Gareth Bale.

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