The top 10 players in A-League history

Thomas Broich and Alessandro del Piero Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

On the eve of the season opener of the A-League's 10th anniversary season, The World Game is celebrating everything the game has had to offer over the past nine seasons of euphoric highs and comical lows. From the very best matches to the best goals, biggest blow-ups and even the signing of a non-existent player, our stable of A-League experts has it covered.

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With a host of quality imports such as Shinji Ono, Carlos Hernandez, and even 'God', Robbie Fowler, gracing the A-League over the years culling down the list of candidates was an arduous task.

Adding the likes of Australian football royalty in Harry Kewell, John Aloisi, Brett Emerton and Jason Culina to the mix made the job near on impossible.

While some players have made a huge impact in a short space of time, others have stood the test of time and maintained an exceptional level of consistency and quality.

Now without any futher ado, it's time to put it all on the line and count down the best players in the history of the competition in the final instalment of TWG's Power of 10 specials.

10. SHANE SMELTZ

The New Zealand sharp-shooter scooped the A-League golden boot award in successive seasons as he tore opposition defences apart at will.

In 2008-2009 he was the league's top scorer playing for Wellington Phoenix before a move to Gold Coast United saw him plunder 22 goals from 26 games a season later - as Clive Palmer's assembled group of stars threatened to take the league by storm.

A genuine No. 9, Smeltz even managed to maintain a goal every other game record while at Perth Glory and sits on 77 A-League - just one shy of the record.

He should get a chance to add to that tally at Sydney FC.

9. IVAN FRANJIC

Plucked out of the Victorian Premier League as an injury replacement for Brisbane Roar, the carpenter soon became a full-time footballer and five years later has three championship medals to his credit as a member of the most successful club in A-League history.

Franjic quickly established himself as the first choice at Roar, fitting in seemlessly to the Roar-celona style of play implemented by Ange Postecoglou.

Versatile enough to play in midfield, on the left and score goals, Franjic is the archetypal modern footballer.

8. PATRICK ZWAANSWIJK

Arriving in Australia as a 35 year-old, the Dutch veteran brought with him a wealth of experience after 300 plus game in the Eredivisie. Three years later he retired from the game after helping end Central Coast Mariners's championship hoodoo - breaking a few records on the way.

During his spell in Gosford, Zwaanswijk scored 11 goals, became a crowd favourite and was the cornerstone of Graham Arnold's defensive unit that lost a grand final in 2011, won the premiership in 2012 and then the championship in 2013.

An uncompromising defender that was commanding in the air, had a thunderous left-foot and was comfortable on the ball - Zwaanswijk's temperament and leadership played a role in the development of Socceroos centre-backs Alex Wilkinson and Trent Sainsbury.

7. DWIGHT YORKE

The A-League's inaugural $1million marquee signing was exactly what the flegling competition needed in 2005 as he was spotted in the social sections as often as the back pages during his year-long Sydney FC spell.

'All night Dwight' was a hit in every way and on the pitch the ex-Aston Villa and Manchester United star made an immediate impact - scoring the first goal in Sydney FC's maiden A-League game against Melbourne Victory.

In 22 league appearances, Yorke scored seven times but his value to the team went way beyond goals. Coach Pierre Littbarski shifted the striker to a playmaker role in which he ran the show and as captain he led by example.

Bling FC, as it was known, followed the pied piper all the way to the 2005-2006 championship with Yorke setting up the grand final's only goal for Steve Corica on his way to picking up the Joe Marston Medal.

In less than a year, Yorke put a brand new football competition on the map and was rewarded with the captain's armband for Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and soon after an EPL contract with Sunderland.

6. MICHAEL THEO

All great teams have had a great goalkeeper and Brisbane Roar's No.1 is no exception. The 33 year-old has three times been named A-League goalkeeper of the year and has more clean sheets to his name than any other shot-stopper in the league's history.

After a time share arrangement in the inaugural 2005-2006 season with Eugene Galekovic, he got the nod for season two and in the next three seasons at Victory, Theo won two championships and two premierships.

Since joining Roar in 2010, he has won another three championships to take his total to an unprecedented five, and two more premierships - making him the most decorated player in A-League history.

Even a name change mid career from Theoklitos to Theo to make life simpler for fans, did little to halt his success.

5. ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO

The 2006 World Cup winner's signing by Sydney FC in 2012 elevated the A-League to another stratosphere. While no spring chicken at 37 when he was unveiled by the Sky Blues, ADP was sensational in his first season.

Despite 14 goals in 24 games, including a cracking free-kick in his home debut, a winning strike in the maiden Sydney derby, a scorching effort against Perth Glory and four of the best against a powerless Wellington Phoenix, Sydney could only manage seventh.

While his legendary speed may have passed him by, Del Piero's craft and football smarts were a joy to watch for A-League fans. At times he baited opponents into lunging in and either slipped by them with a drop of the shoulder or a feint. His touch was sublime and his desire to be successful never waned.

When it was all said and done after two glorious seasons, which drew to a close after defeat to Melbourne Victory in an elimination final last April, the Italian legend had played 48 times scoring 24 goals.

Grazie Ale.

4. KEVIN MUSCAT

Without doubt one of the most polarising figures during his playing days, there is no denying Muscat's impact during his six years in the A-League - which culminated with a season-ending eight-games ban for his tackle on Adrian Zahra in a Melbourne derby in 2011.

While his reputation as the dirtiest footballer gathered momentum during his near decade-long career in the UK, Muscat joined Melbourne Victory in 2005 as its inaugural captain.

Transformed from a marauding, and at times bone crunching right-back, the Socceroos veteran settled in at centre-back and also spent some time in midfield, with his range of passing a real highlight.

After a troubled first season, Victory clicked into gear with Muscat a two-times premiership and championship winning skipper in 2007 and 2009.

While he shares the unwanted record for the most A-League red cards with five, Muscat also managed to score 28 league goals for Victory - more than any other defender.

Oh...his infamous run-in with John Kosmina now lends itself to the perpetual Kosmina-Muscat Cup that goes to the winner of the three Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United regular season games.

3. BESART BERISHA

The Albanian striker wasted little time introducing himself to the A-League with 21 goals - to claim the golden boot award - in the 2011-2012 campaign as Brisbane Roar defended its championship.

Two more goal-laden seasons has the 29 year-old fourth on the all-time leading goalscorers list with a phenomenal strike rate of 48 in just 76 games.

In two grand final victories, Berisha has scored three times proving not only is he the most prolific finisher in the game but one that relishes the biggest stage.

A real poacher who plays with his heart on his sleeve, Berisha has fallen foul with officials and opponents, and even team-mates at times, as his exuberance for the game boils over.

Despite his indiscretions, Melbourne Victory was quick to secure Berisha as its international marquee for the next two seasons.

2. ARCHIE THOMPSON

Melbourne Victory's first ever signing is a member of a select group that has played in every season of the A-League. His pace, skill and infectious attitude made him an instant crowd favourite and that is no different today.

A dazzling talent that is the league's all time record goalscorer with 78, including Victory's maiden A-League goal, Thompson was electrifying at his peak and was instrumental in Melbourne's 2007 and 2009 championship/premiership doubles.

His eye for goal saw him crowned the golden boot in 2006 but he is best remembered for his record setting five-goal haul in the 6-0 drubbing of Adelaide United in the 2007 grand final - watched by a record crowd of 55,436 at Telstra Dome.



1. THOMAS BROICH

In four years, the German has twice been voted Johnny Warren Medal winner by his peers, in 2012 and 2014 - and in his debut campaign in 2010-2011 he polled second as Brisbane Roar won the double.

A three-times A-League champion and two-time premiership winner, Broich is one of the most gifted footballers to have ever laced up a boot in Australia. While his vision, a superb passing range and exquisite footwork are what put bums on seats, Broich's workrate is exemplary and goes a long way to keeping Roar ahead of the chasing pack.

A Germany B international, Broich's pedigree was unquestioned, after spells with three different Bundesliga clubs, but after losing his passion for the game he found a new lease of life under Ange Postecoglou and the rewards have been flooding in ever since.

While he doesn't score as many goals as someone with his ability should, there is a simple rule of thumb that if Broich is at his best Roar is unbeatable.

He plays the game as it should be played.

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Source: SBS