Best of the Rest: Selecting a squad of City's best-ever foreign signings
With players of 23 foreign nationalities passing through the club over the years, we’ve accumulated quite the pool of talent from which to put together a ‘Foreign XI’ to take on our hypothetical ‘Australian XI’ that we compiled a few days ago (which you can check out by clicking here)
Over the past decade, we’ve had everything from European legends to relative unknowns who’ve since become club record-breakers, and now it’s time to determine the best of the best from overseas.
Here is Talking City’s Foreign XI:
Note: Where there was competition for a spot, emphasis was placed on the performances of the players in question whilst at Melbourne Heart/City as opposed to their reputation or what they later went to on accomplish. Stats and nationalities as perTransfermarkt.
Goalkeeper: Thomas Sorensen (37 appearances, 7 clean sheets)
We’re sure that even if there were some sort of viable alternative non-Australian goalkeeper, we’d still be going with Tommy.
Fact is though, there ain’t.
We’ve got fan-favourite Thomas Sorensen or we’ve got zero-appearance Yaren Sözer, who we can only name-drop because he was once on the City books as a ‘senior’ player.
Moving on then…
Right-Back: Ritchie De Laet (26 appearances, 7 goals)
Unfortunately, the striker position was quite quickly sewn up so we couldn’t throw RDL in as a makeshift #9, but we know he’ll do just fine bossing the right-hand side of the field from his regular fullback position.
Earning the Fans’ Player of the Year in 2018/19, De Laet’s defensive astuteness may genuinely have been overshadowed by the irony of his offensive contributions up the other end, but the Belgian remains by far the best right-back we’ve ever had.
Centre-Back: Michael Jakobsen (43 appearances, 1 goal)
We’re not sure if there’s any truth to the statement, and we’re not too bothered with fact-checking*, but Michael Jakobsen must surely be the FFA Cup specialist if ever there was one; the Dane’s now won three of the last four, once with City and twice with Adelaide.
We don’t really speak about the Cup after what happened last October though…
*As it turns out, we ARE bothered with fact-checking, and Jako will have to share his Cup specialist title with Adelaide teammate Michael Marrone (2014, 2018, 2019).
Centre-Back: Bart Schenkeveld (55 appearances, 1 goal)
Arguably the best defender in the club’s history, Schenkeveld was pretty much the first name on the teamsheet when it came to selecting our foreign squad.
It’s fairly common for central defenders to go unnoticed throughout successful campaigns, but Schenkeveld was pivotal in that 2017-18 season in which the team secured nine clean sheets, with the Dutchman deservedly recognised as the Player of the Year.
Left-Back: Nicholas Colazo (23 appearances, 4 goals)
Bit of a tricky one, left-back was.
From the resources we used to put these teams together, the only listed foreign left-back was North Macedonian Philip Petrevski with his whopping ONE appearance which came in the 95th minute of an FFA Cup match a few years back.
We do know, however, that Argentinian Nicholas Colazo can play the position quite well, despite spending a fair chunk of time on the wing or in midfield for City during 2016/17.
Quite the versatile athlete, really.
Defensive Midfield: Jonatan Germano (56 appearances, 7 goals)
We’re hoping Germano’s paper-thin hamstrings hold out for the ninety minutes against his hypothetical Australian counterparts because this side will need the Argentinian at his very best.
At that peak, Germano is a talent like very few who’ve passed through the club over the years, an influential midfielder who specialises in wider or holding positions.
A Heart-era favourite, for sure.
Defensive Midfield: Orlando Engelaar (12 appearances, 5 goals)
And speaking of Heart-era favourites, there are none bigger (literally) than Orlando Engelaar.
At 6’5”, Engelaar pretty much took the piss once he really got going in that 2013/14 season, not only scoring five goals from his twelve appearances but also playing a huge part in bringing the Heart back into some sort of competitive existence; the 14-game winless streak was ended (and a seven-game unbeaten started) when the Dutchman made his first appearance of the season in Round 15 against Newcastle.
Dazzling fans with his aerial and passing capabilities, the Dutchman was perhaps a little deceptive in exactly how offensively-minded he was as a midfielder, capable of some killer, line-breaking through-balls for the likes of David Williams to latch right onto.
Attacking Midfield: Fred (38 appearances, 3 goals)
Rounding out our All-Heart midfield is 2011/12 Captain of the A-League Team of the Season, shaven-head Fred.
…The sentence needed the grandeur of a name with more than one syllable…
The bald-Brazillian (any better?) had a knack for exhibiting typical flashes of brilliance to unlock opposition defences in the space of a single killer pass or deft dribble and was more or less just a true leader on the pitch with his elite performances.
Right-Wing: Markel Susaeta (10 appearances, 2 goals)
It still doesn’t exactly feel quite real that we were able to secure a 500+ game Athletic Bilbao legend for the brief time that we did, but Susaeta’s quality is certainly unmistakeable.
Whilst the Spaniard hadn’t been mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination, the superiority of his touch and passing was observable even to the novice football-goer.
Susaeta’s two goals and one assist well and truly belie his influence on matches and fans can only wonder what might have been if we could turn back time and have another crack at the Finals series with Susa on the right instead of Wales.
Striker: Bruno Fornaroli (73 appearances, 51 goals)
The master of the “R1 + O” FIFA-finesse shots from outside the box, Fornaroli regularly scores the types of goals that we mere mortals can only dream about… or perhaps self-commentate on in the backyard.
If we’re being honest, Fornaroli makes watching football fun and that’s exactly why we loved him during his time in Melbourne.
Left-Wing: Harry Novillo (31 appearances, 11 goals)
As was the case in 2015/16, Fornaroli will once again be fed some absolutely salacious crosses from one Monsieur Harry Novillo out on the left.
If we’re really looking to stretch the nostalgia-factor here, we could even argue that this attacking trio is a revival of the ‘MFN’ strike force, if we simply get on first-name basis with Susa out on the right.
Pretty bloody deadly either way.
Yaren Sözer – 0 appearances, 0 clean sheets. Let’s just hope Sorensen doesn’t get sent off…
Patrick Gerhardt – 40 appearances, 1 goal
Marcin Budsinski – 17 appearances, 5 goals
Alex Terra – 43 appearances, 7 goals
Ross McCormack – 17 appearances, 14 goals