Over the past ten years, some truly incredible players have taken to the pitch with the Heart or City crests on their shirt; players that we as fans have fallen in love with even long after their departure.
Let me tell you right now: ranking these players – the 20 greatest players of the decade – is NOT an enviable task.
It’s a genuinely cruel exercise for one to have to carry out, to have to question whether objective and subjective measures of a player’s greatness hold the same weight in an argument, to have to assign rankings to players so different in playing style or legacy...
But alas, here it is.
After giving consideration to the raw talent, overall contribution, fan-favour and excitement-value of some of the biggest names in club history – men’s or women’s – here is Talking City’s Top 20 Club Players of the Decade.
1. Only players who spent more than one season with the club were considered.
2. All stats as per Ultimate A-League.
20 | Jonatan Germano (56 appearances, 7 goals)
Jonatan Germano is perhaps Heart personified.
The Argentinian’s time on the treatment table is recalled just as promptly as his actual on-field performances; a midfielder who excelled in both holding and wider positions, yet whose potential was never reached thanks to his various physical ailments.
Germano gave us quite possibly the most iconic moment of those years 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.
The midfielder also holds a special place in our history as a player that fans who started following in either era of the club can remember fondly, having been one of few to take to the pitch for both Heart and City.
Perhaps better known for his *longevity* – his overall time spent at the club, more than on the pitch, anyway – Germano’s name narrowly claws its way onto our list ahead of other Heart favourites such as the aforementioned Mate Dugandzic and Alex Terra.
19 | Michael Jakobsen (43 appearances, 1 goal)
Remember that ridiculous bicycle kick that Jakobsen scored just two minutes into his debut all the way back in September, 2016 against the Wanderers in the FFA Cup?
Not bringing it up for any particular reason, just doing you the favour of bringing it back to the forefront of your mind, because it’s a ripper and deserves that place.
Really, it’s one of the standout moments in the two-season stint that Jakobsen spent with City, alongside his involvement in our 2016 FFA Cup win, before moving on to Adelaide in 2018/19 to win the bloody thing twice more…
Already a veteran of professional football in a handful of leagues around the world by the time he arrived in Bundoora, the Dane’s composure and consistency in defence made him a clear choice to assume captaincy during his second season in 2017/18, leading us to our best finish in club history (depending on what happens to the status of the current 19/20 season).
18 | Aziz Behich (89 appearances, 2 goals)
Behich may find himself in a bit of a rut at club level at the moment, but his time with Melbourne Heart is certainly worth remembering as the platform that kicked off the then-19-year-old’s journey towards European football in the first place.
After a failed stint over at the other lot (that’s right, Behich was the first A-League player to turn out for both Melbourne sides), we plucked the teenager from Hume City in the NPL and turned him into a Socceroo over the next four seasons.
Racking up two goals and seven assists over his 89 appearances for the club (2nd behind only David Williams), Behich operated along the left side of the field, primarily at left-back and occasionally as a left-midfielder, where he was named in the 2011/12 PFA Team of the Season.
Now contracted to Istanbul Başakşehir in the Turkish Superliga, stories like Behich’s are a reminder that Heart, for all the disappointment of our low table finishes, also served as the starting point for many careers; the big break that some of Australia’s brightest talents were crying out for.
17 | Tim Cahill (28 appearances, 11 goals)
Timmy, Timmy, Timmy…
Australia’s Golden Forehead arrived in Melbourne at the start of the 2016/17 campaign in what seemed a statement of intent by the club; there could have been no better way to capitalise on the momentum of that exciting 2015/16 season than by signing one of the all-time Australian greats.
It’s quite an ironic statement, but Cahill did leave quite the legacy on Melbourne City, most notably heading home the winner to secure our first piece of senior men’s silverware in the 2016 FFA Cup Final against Sydney at home.
The former-Everton great announced his A-League arrival with resounding emphasis even earlier in the season, when he scored that unbelievable volley which sailed past Lawrence Thomas in the Round 2 Melbourne Derby.
Beyond that, Cahill should also be remembered for his influence on the club’s promising youth of the time, including a certain Daniel Arzani who credits the Socceroos legend for mentoring him during their respective time at City.
There are quite a few players who were unfortunate to miss out on inclusion in this list, and Cahill is arguably one who’s rather fortunate to be here, but Timmy’s major selling point was his tendency to score the goals that really mattered. Big moments require big players, after all.
Anyway, Warren Joyce arrived the next season and you know how it went from there...
16 | Fred (38 appearances, 3 goals)
There wasn’t a whole lot to celebrate in the Heart era, and it was no coincidence that the club's best table-finish of that period also happened to be the standout season of club captain Fred.
The Brazilian sensation lead the Heart between 2011 and 2013, becoming a fan favourite for his typical South American flair which complemented his incisive passing and refined touch.
His crowning achievement during his time with us came in the form of his selection as captain of the 2011/12 PFA A-League Team of the Year, which surprisingly also featured the aforementioned Aziz Behich and Michael Marrone, as well as Clint Bolton on the bench.
Early on in this countdown, we’ve done our best to recognise some of the standout contributors from that fairly underwhelming era of the club’s history, and Fred certainly deserves recognition as being one of our most influential players during that time.
Keep an eye on our socials over the coming week for the rest of the countdown…