Over 30 International players have graced the Hyundai A-League as marquee players or under guest spots since the beginning in 2005. While some have proven to be very successful, there have been a number of disappointing flops as well. This article split into two dissects a list of marquee players to have joined the league at some stage in their career into judgement of their success or failure.
TOP 10 FLOPS
10. Pablo Contreras- Melbourne Victory 2013-14; 20 games, 0 goals
The former Chilean International mainstay at right back, Contreras signed as the Victory's marquee for the 2013-14 season before his retirement. Contreras never quite showed the form that earned him his international spot for majority of the season with poor decision-making and plays failing to display his wealthy experience, despite some strong showings in the back end. While it may be harsh to regard Contreras to be a flop, this list is purely based off consistency and impact, the former which was lacking throughout his only A-league campaign.
9. Emile Heskey- Newcastle Jets 2012-14; 42 games, 10 goals
The big English frontman earned his reputation with Leicester City and Liverpool in the first decade of his career, however he struggled to maintain consistent goalscoring form following subsequent moves to Birmingham, Wigan and Aston Villa where he only managed 38 goals in over 240 games combined. Following his signing to the Newcastle Jets, Heskey was promoted alongside Alessandro Del Piero who became Sydney FC's marquee for the 2012-13 season. Heskey enjoyed a fairly successful first season in the A-League, scoring 9 goals in 23 matches before enduring a frustrating 2013-14 campaign, managing only 1 goal in 19 matches. Heskey's impact was minimal as the Jets failed to make the finals both seasons.
8. Maceo Rigters- Gold Coast United 2011-12; 22 games, 4 goals
You can be forgiven for not knowing much about this striker from the Netherlands before his arrival as Gold Coast's marquee for the 2011-12 season. Rigters gained some attention when he banged in eight goals in 17 appearances for second division side, Dordrecht in his home country, however he struggled to live up to expectations when he joined Eredivisie side, NAC Breda in 2005 and averaged a goal every 12 games or part thereof. A poor transfer to English club Blackburn followed where he was loaned out to Norwich and Barnsley as well as Dutch side Willem II where he finally managed to find the net. Due to his overpriced wage demands, he was made marquee by Gold Coast United in 2011 who were desperate for his services. In an impressive final season for the GC in the A-League, Rigters only managed four goals.
7. Fabio Vignaroli- Newcastle Jets 2009-10; 15 games, 0 goals
The Italian journeyman was signed by the Jets as a versatile midfielder who last played for top Italian side, Lazio following stints with a number of clubs in various Italian leagues such as Salernitana, Modena, Bari, Bologna and Parma. Vignaroli struggled with injuries and discipline (receiving six yellow cards) and never really established himself to the Novocastrian faithful through a bitterly disappointing spell.
6. Federico Piovaccari- Western Sydney Wanderers 2015-current; 12 games, 2 goals
Wanderers fans are still flabbergasted that this strong Italian is worth the money of a marquee. The coup of Piovaccari was announced with little fanfare, months prior to the season beginning. Piovaccari spent a lot of his career playing for lower Italian sides including where he discovered most of his talent at Ravenna and Cittadella. A big move to Sampdoria beckoned, though he struggled and was loaned out on several occasions, most notably Romania's Steaua Bucuresti and the Spanish La Liga's Eibar. However in the A-League, Piovaccari has squandered several chances to increase his goalscoring tally which still remains at two from separate tap-ins against Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix. Respected for his hard-working attitude, Piovaccari has been caught offside countlessly and simply isn't as comprehensive in front of goal as fans would like him to be.
5. Brian Deane- Perth Glory 2005; 7 games, 1 goal
Brian Deane is perhaps most known for scoring the first ever goal of the new era of the English Premier League in 1992 for Sheffield United but he also managed more than 80 goals for Sheffield United as a total, his most successful period in club football. Deane also showcased his goal-scoring prowess at further clubs such as Leeds, Benfica, Middlesbrough, Leicester City and West Ham. Perth Glory attempted to challenge Sydney FC's unveiling of former Premier League star, Dwight Yorke in the opening season of the A-League, however Brian Deane could only manage a measly one goal in just seven appearances, his goal coming in his last match before returning to Sheffield United for a third stint.
4. Robert Koren-Melbourne City 2014-16; 26 games, 3 goals
Koren's best game in the A-league was most likely last season where he scored all of his three A-League goals against the Newcastle Jets in a 5-2 victory. Apart from that match, the former captain of the Slovenian national team was a disappointing marquee to kick off the new Melbourne City brand. Koren offered plenty of experience to a young Melbourne City side, having spent valuable time in the English Premier League and Championship with West Bromwich Albion and Hull City. After a frustrating period and having only taken part in six of City's games this season, Koren was released.
3. Romario- Adelaide United 2006; 4 games, 1 goal
The former Brazilian superstar was sensationally signed as a huge guest star coup for Adelaide United during the 2006-07 season. Adelaide were experiencing good form before the striker's arrival who proved to be more of a hindrance rather than providing an impact. Romario was prolific in his prime at major clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Valencia and scored well over 600 career goals, while also remaining crucial to the Brazilian national team for close to twenty years, chiming in with 55 goals. Romario was 40 when he joined Adelaide briefly however and his ego and lack of talent that he previously displayed throughout his career was a dent to Adelaide's position on the table at the time.
2. William Gallas- Perth Glory 2013-14; 15 games, 1 goal
The Frenchman centre-half was known as a rock in defence during his time at Marseille, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham and the French national side, however his dismal season at Perth Glory can be viewed as nothing but an embarrassment. Gallas made numerous uncharacteristic mistakes and there were claims that Gallas simply couldn't adapt to the scolding Perth weather. Perhaps the biggest lowlight of his short A-league career was a horrendous yet equally hysterical defensive error which involved an air swing and directly led to a goal for the Western Sydney Wanderers. Gallas' poor season at Perth was his last as a professional footballer.
1. Mario Jardel- Newcastle Jets 2007-08; 11 games, 0 goals
Con Constantine, the owner of Newcastle Jets at the time was emphatically enthusiastic about the signing of former two-time European Golden Boot winner, Mario Jardel. However it was ultimately doomed from the start. After being picked up at Sydney airport, Jardel had to make a stop on the way to Newcastle to buy football boots. In his first training session, Newcastle staff could sense that this was no longer the prolific goalscorer in Europe that he once was. Jardel had been recognised by Portugal's FC Porto after scoring 67 in 73 on loan at Brazilian side, Gremio. Jardel carried on his spectacular form at Porto, recording 130 goals in only 125 games between 1996 and 2000 before continuing at Galatasaray (22 goals in 24) and returning to Portugal with Sporting (53 in 49). Jardel's talent had clearly declined and in a season, where the Jets shone on the field, winning their first A-league title, Jardel was the only negative to pull out of the season, playing in eleven matches without netting a single goal.