From the Archives: The best player from every country in club history! [August 2019]
Since the club’s inaugural season in 2010/11, players of 24 different nationalities have turned out for Melbourne Heart/City at the senior level, with 10 of these countries boasting multiple representees.
It was only a matter of time before our curiousity got the better of us, of course, because the mouth-watering notion of splitting hairs between a handful of talented players from each country to have represented the club was simply too good to ignore.
Whilst there’s more of an emphasis on the diversity of nationalities we’ve had over the years – with plenty of countries having only one representee to choose from – there remain a few close calls between multiple players where we’re able to indulge in the nitpicking a little.
We’re going by each player’s listed primary nationality (as per Transfermarkt) as opposed to heritages and/or other citizenships they may hold, with the only other condition being that players must have made at least one competitive senior appearance (A-League or FFA Cup) for the club.
- All nationalities and stats as per Transfermarkt
- This is not an updated article. Player statistics are accurate from August 2019 and selections for each nationality haven't been updated based on the performances of players during the 2019-20 season.
Argentina – Jonatan Germano (56 appearances, 7 goals)
Despite the notes above, this is where we will admit to some shady after-the-fact chopping-and-changing. Having initially gone with Fernando Brandán in the initial release of this article, we’re now looking back on that decision as extremely questionable in hindsight, given that we went so far as to name Germano in our top 20 players of the decade whilst Brandán barely got a sniff.
And thus, Germano it is then.
The Argentinian will be remembered for his universally-recognised potential – excelling in both holding and wider midfield positions – which he was never quite able to achieve thanks to his various physical ailments.
Germano also gave us one of the more iconic moments of the Heart era when he scored against reigning-champions Brisbane Roar, rising to head home Mate Dugandzic’s well-weighted corner before retrieving a Santa hat from his shorts, plopping it on his head and running off towards the crowd like a madman.
Australia – Aaron Mooy (53 appearances, 18 goals)
Without doubt one of the greatest players in the club’s relatively short history, The Pasty Pirlo really was a magician; just go take a look at his long ball for Stefan Mauk to equalise 2-2 in the Melbourne Derby of October 2015.
Aaron left a lasting legacy on this club, and we’d argue that City never quite found the right substitute to his creative capabilities in the seasons following his departure.
Other notable Aussies: David Williams, Patrick Kisnorbo, Aziz Behich.
Austria – Richard Windbichler (1 appearance, 0 goals)
Including this one is a bit trivial, but Windbichler IS our first-ever Austrian and, as a result of his arrival off the bench late in the piece against Campbelltown in the FFA Cup, HAS made at least one competitive senior appearance for City, so fair game.
Belgium – Ritchie De Laet (26 appearances, 7 goals)
He’s the only Belgian to ever play for the club, but bloody hell RDL was good. In terms of sheer quality, he was possibly one of the best players the league had to offer in 2018/19, massively exceeding expectations when he was forced to play as a makeshift striker for parts of last season.
Comfortably the best marquee (who was intentionally signed as a marquee rather than elevated to that status) of the City era, with no real competition in sight.
Brazil – Fred (38 appearances, 3 goals)
Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva, or just… uh… ‘Fred’, captained the Heart between 2011 and 2013, having returned to the A-League a few years after initial spells with Victory and Wellington Phoenix.
Beloved for his impressive capabilities on the ball, including his typical Brazilian flair and the ability to pick out a killer pass, Fred’s crowning personal achievement was his selection as captain of the 2011/12 PFA A-League Team of the Year.
Fellow countryman Alex Terra was also a prominent name during the Heart era, scoring 7 goals in 43 matches.
Croatia – Josip Tadic (22 appearances, 6 goals)
Joining Melbourne Heart for the 2012/13 season, the former Croatian youth international and ex-Dinamo Zagreb star shared the club Golden Boot with Richard Garcia that season… having scored just 6 goals.
In a campaign where the team was accountable for a mere 31 goals collectively, the club’s only-ever Croatian signing stood out with his ability to hold up the play as a no. 9, then relying on his impressive first touch, immense strength on the ball and wicked turn of pace to boot.
Denmark – Thomas Sorensen (37 appearances, 7 clean sheets)
Denmark presented another tough pick for us, with Premier League legend Sorensen challenged by former City captain Michael Jakobsen.
Whilst Jakobsen turned out on more occasions in the City Blue colours, Sorensen’s contribution between the sticks – particularly in 2015/16 – proved not only to be invaluable to the team, but also gave us some unforgettable moments, including his man-of-the-match performance in the Christmas Derby of that season. Some truly heart-stopping moments and awe-inspiring saves.
England – Shayon Harrison (11 appearances, 4 goals)
It’s hard to believe that Shay Harrison was our first and only Englishman up until Craig Noone arrived a few months back.
We’ve got a strong feeling Noone will end up the much better player while he’s at City (he’s scored two absolute belters already), but for now it’s probably gotta go to Shay, who found his goalscoring form late in the 2018/19 season despite a slow-start to his time in Melbourne after being loaned out from Tottenham.
France – Florin Berenguer (20 appearances, 0 goals)
The BerenGOAT himself, if you’re taking a more lighthearted approach, Florin’s probably a little lucky that French-born Harry Novillo is actually a Martinique international, and that we haven’t signed any other Frenchmen over the years.
He’s yet to find the back of the net for City, but could step up his game in 2019/20 given the intense competition presented by Adrián Luna and Javier Cabrera who are capable of playing on the wings or more centrally, similar to the Frenchman.
Ireland – Damien Duff (15 appearances, 1 goal)
The club’s had a few Irishmen through the doors over the years, but none have really established themselves in the starting lineup over an extended period, with Damian Duff, Steven Gray and the late Liam Miller putting together just 18 appearances between them, with 15 of those belonging to two-time Premier League winner Duff.
With over 350 English top-flight appearances, it’s a shame the classy midfielder wasn’t at the club for longer, spending just one season at City before moving on to Shamrock Rovers in Ireland.
Italy – Iacopo La Rocca (20 appearances, 0 goals)
Iacopo La Rocca or Andrea Migliorini – not exactly the most overwhelming of options to pick from for Italy, unfortunately.
Whilst Migliorini's nine appearances will always appear to have been relatively prolific thanks to his three goals, two of those came in the same game against Adelaide, with the former-Heart man not overly impactful aside from that.
Instead, we’ve gone with La Rocca, whose 20 appearances mostly came throughout the 2017/18 season where we achieved our highest-ever finish. Unfortunately, the Italian was at his best during his time with Adelaide, and by the time he arrived in Melbourne, he was about as 'A-League Standard' as they come.
Liberia – Patrick Gerhardt (40 appearances, 1 goal)
Over his 40-game tenure with the club, the 6ft Liberian developed a reputation as a strong, technical central defender known for his formidable aerial prowess and industrious work rate.
The Liberian’s only goal for the club wasn’t at all pretty; a messy, sliding, front-post finish from a Mate Dugandzic cross which sent the Heart 1-0 up over Brisbane Roar in a match that would wind up as a 4-1 win, a rare occurrence in the gloomy Aloisi era.
Malta – Manny Muscat (37 appearances, 1 goal)
This matchup for Malta's best is essentially the Rene special; Manny Muscat vs Michael Mifsud... the club’s Maltese Marvels going toe to toe.
…We’re going with the one who lasted more than six months…
Martinique – Harry Novillo (31 appearances, 11 goals)
The marginally lesser light of our iconic attacking trio in 2015/16, Novillo was nonetheless an entertainer to all – a fan favourite to this day – and had an impressive goalscoring output to match.
If opposition defences weren’t being terrorised by Fornaroli’s quick feet and lethal finishing in the box, they were being scorched by Novillo’s lightning maneuvers in the wider areas.
Netherlands – Bart Schenkeveld (55 appearances, 1 goal)
The shortest shorts the league has ever seen.
Quite literally ‘six foot tall and full of muscle’, Bart’s incredible strength and speed made him just about unbeatable at the back. It’s almost a shame that he never received a straight red in his time at City… would’ve been f****** glorious.
Other notable Dutchmen: Gerald Sibon, Rutger Worm, Orlando Engelaar, Rob Wielart.
North Macedonia – Philip Petreski (1 appearance, 0 goals)
The tale of a promising talent who was continuously overlooked for senior selection, Petreski’s time at the club began all the way back in 2011, and included several standout National Youth League seasons.
Including his representation of the club at the Youth and NPL levels, The Corner Flag noted that the fullback, before departing the club in 2017, was actually “the longest-serving member of City’s squad across all competitions”.
Petreski made his one and only senior appearance in the 95th minute of an FFA cup match against Edgeworth Eagles in August, 2015. Probably makes it onto this *highly-coveted* list by mere seconds.
Northern Ireland – Aaron Hughes (6 appearances, 1 goal)
The recently-retired Aaron Hughes was a stalwart of the Premier League before his arrival at City at the start of the 2015/16 season.
Perhaps best known for his immaculate disciplinary despite playing in the heart of defence, Hughes never received a single red card throughout his 455 top-flight appearances. The only player to have played more games without a sending off is Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs.
Having battled injuries throughout his time in Melbourne, Hughes took to the pitch just six times and departed the club at the end of the campaign.
Phillipines – Iain Ramsay (43 appearances, 3 goals)
Born in Perth, the Filipino-international (29 appearances for 4 goals on the national stage) came through Sydney FC’s youth ranks to end up at Adelaide, where he made 78 appearances before turning out for Melbourne City between 2013 and 2015.
The left-sided midfielder probably left his best form behind in Adelaide by the time he came to us, but was a serviceable contributor throughout his 43 appearances.
Poland – Marcin Budsinski (17 appearances, 5 goals)
He mightn’t have done much else as a marquee, but bloody hell this bloke could hit an absolute rocket when he wanted to. Cast your mind back to his late outside-the-box equaliser against the Mariners in 2017/18, or even further back to the October Derby of that same season.
Nick Fitzgerald’s picked up the ball just outside the corner of the box deep into first-half stoppage time. He darts inwards, dancing and body feinting like a maniac, and slides a ball past Victory’s Corey Brown. ‘Budders’ comes onto it at a seemingly impossible angle and belts the crap out of the thing, which ends up soaring past a flailing Lawrence Thomas. It’s orgasmic to watch, really is.
Scotland – Ross McCormack (17 appearances, 14 goals)
Fornaroli’s injury-replacement in 2017/18, McCormack came to City to resurrect his Aston Villa career and restore his unfavourable reputation with Steve Bruce. The Scot was initially blasted by fans for carrying a fair bit of extra weight on him (ironic, given the controversy that plagued City in early 2018/19), and for his apparent laziness on the pitch.
Then he went and scored that first free-kick against Wellington and simply didn’t stop scoring after that. Fastest player to 13 goals in their debut A-League season.
Besides, the only other Scot we’ve ever had got injured about five minutes after signing and went back home…
[2020 re-release note: At the time this was referring to Michael O'Halloran, but ironically we suppose Jack Hendry fits the bill too.)
Singapore – Safuwan Baharudin (6 appearances, 2 goals)
Good bit of Melbourne City trivia, Safuwan was.
Currently playing in the Malaysian Super League, this Singaporean defender was picked up on a three-month loan contract in the back half of the 2014/15 season.
Making just six appearances, Baharudin managed to rack up an eyebrow-raising four yellow cards and even got his name on the score sheet twice, but a spinal injury against Wellington Phoenix limited further opportunities, and the contract wasn’t renewed.
Slovenia – Robert Koren (26 appearances, 3 goals)
Ah, Robi… the benchmark for underwhelming City marquees for years to follow.
When he first signed in 2014, he was touted as a man to build a squad around, but spent most of his time in Melbourne on the treatment table. Even when he did get on the pitch, his performances were largely unexceptional, barring a hattrick against Newcastle on his first start for the club. He never found the back of the net after that.
Spain – David Villa (4 appearances, 2 goals)
It was a landmark signing for the club which well and truly kicked off the City era. A legend at Valencia and of the Spanish national team, the deal was that Villa would play for the club between October and December. He scored against Sydney on his debut and then… jetted off to NYCFC a few weeks later after only four appearances.
Just so happens he’s the only Spaniard we’ve ever signed.
Uruguay – Bruno Fornaroli (73 appearances, 51 goals)
Yes, the whole situation’s over now; he’s gone to Perth and might even score a bag against us while he’s there; but the outrage and protest of fans last season really spoke to his importance to the fabric of the club.
‘El Tuna’ really was something special; he entertained City fans week in, week out with his passion, flair and creativity. In that 15/16 season with Mooy and Novillo, he was scoring goals for fun and making opposition defenders look stupid.
We can only hope that our new Uruguayan duo, Cabrera and Luna, are able to entertain us and show even some of the class that he did in his four seasons in Melbourne.