The best player from every country in club history! Part 1: A-L
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.
Hence, we’ve gone to work and compiled this neat little list of foreigners who’ve graced the AAMI Park pitch since our inaugural Heart season.
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 remains 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 nationality 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.
Argentina – Fernando Brandán (19 appearances, 3 goals)
A very tightly run race to kick things off, with Fernando Brandán narrowly pipping Jonatan Germano as our favourite Argentinian maestro.
Germano’s name is synonymous with the Heart days, having been at the club between 2011 and 2015 and making 56 appearances, but Brandán brought something else entirely to the club...
He was an absolute rat in the eyes of opposition supporters, and we loved him even more for it.
A livewire winger with a FILTHY haircut who brought trademark South American flair to the pitch, Brandán was sorely missed by fans after being forced out under the Joyce regime.
We’ve gotta give an extra special mention to Germano for his iconic celebration in 2011 against Brisbane Roar, whipping that Santa hat from his shorts, plopping it on his head and running off 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… maybe 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.
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 had a decent run of games for Heart, scoring 3 goals in his 9 appearances, we’ve gone with La Rocca, whose 20 appearances mostly came throughout the 2017/18 season where we achieved our highest-ever finish.
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.
Keep an eye on Talking City’s socials over the next few days, with another podcast in the works and likely to come out this week as we ramp things up for the new season!