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Top 10 under 10: The barely-seen players

A look back through a decade of single-figure highs and lows

Mitchell Adam and Aidan Watts-Fawkes

David Williams sits atop Melbourne City’s appearances-made list, something of an island on 101 as our only player to crack the ton.

But what about the other end of the spectrum? The players who, through a lack of opportunity, injury or short tenures, never cracked double figures in a Heart and/or City shirt?

The excellent Ultimate A-League database lists 42 players who fit into that category, including eight with a solitary appearance and six who are stranded on nine.

Some are footnotes, while the impact of others – be it on-field, off-field or because of what happened around them – is etched in our memories.

We’ve picked 10 notable names from that group, revisited and ranked their stories.

For the purpose of this exercise, we’re purely talking A-League appearances, so no friendlies or FFA Cup outings, and have overlooked current squad members.

10. Marcelo Carrusca

Three appearances, 2017-18

Marcelo Carrusca had a decorated career at Adelaide United and, in the deadpan words of The Age’s Michael Lynch, a “largely uneventful” one at Melbourne City.

The Argentinian featured three times for City, all off the bench, during a brief stint plagued by injury and fitness issues.

That he played almost every match for the rest of that season after linking with the Wanderers in January 2018 does, though, suggest there was more at play.

After all, City under Warren Joyce was hardly somewhere you’d expect a South American with flair to flourish.

Carrusca was 34 when he joined City and in the twilight of his career. The Reds got the best out of him but it’s worth pondering whether we could’ve benefited from his talent without the combination of his injury setbacks and joyless, soulless Joyceball.

The former Argentina under-20 international retired in May 2019 after a brief stint with NPL SA club West Adelaide and has turned his hand to coaching. - AW

9. Ali Eyigun

One appearance, 2015-16

Ali Eyigun is perhaps unlucky that his A-League debut in January 2016 coincided with a half-hour of football that’s best forgotten by City fans.

An injury-ravaged City was being schooled by Sydney FC, but somehow hadn’t conceded when coach John van’t Schip changed shape on 34 minutes. Young midfielder Eyigun was sacrificed for Michael Zullo.

His substitution was as expected as his inclusion was unexpected. But the match remains notable beyond circumstances cutting a promising debut short.

Firstly, the result: Aaron Hughes scored his first goal and City hung on for a 2-2 draw on a bizarre, extraordinary night.

Secondly, the no-name squad: Five of the 16 players ended their City tenures having played fewer than 10 matches.

And thirdly, the tactics: Van’t Schip switched to a 3-5-2 when Zullo came on, a formation that served us so well for the rest of that MFN season.

Eyigun spent the winter of 2017 with City’s youth team and won the NPL2 Rising Star award.

He returned to Pascoe Vale, where he developed his craft, in 2018 and has played there since. For what it’s worth, he’s still only 22. - AW

8. Wade Dekker

Five appearances, 2015-16

For all of the fondly-remembered MFN attacking flair of the 2015-16 season, Wade Dekker actually opened Melbourne City’s account, in a 1-1 draw away to Sydney in Round 1.

Dekker was a youth team graduate, the Y-League Golden Boot winner in City’s title-winning 2014-15 season, and even had a run against Manchester City in a mid-2015 friendly.

The young forward was brought down by an ankle injury after three appearances and, despite getting back for a couple of late-season cameos, was not offered a contract extension.

Still only 25, Dekker has played in the NPL Victoria since, with Green Gully and Oakleigh Cannons, and last year signalled his hopes of getting back into the A-League. - MA

7. Anthony Lesiotis

One appearance, 2018-19

You can put Anthony Lesiotis in the basket of ‘the ones that got away’.

Or perhaps we should be pleased that for every Behich, Fred and Kewell, there’s finally a Lesiotis – an ex-City player at Victory, and not the other way around.

Coincidentally, Lesiotis’ six minutes for City were as a substitute in a Melbourne Derby as we held on for a 2-1 win in October 2018.

By January, he’d crossed town to Victory and he’s become a rising star – useful at full-back and at the base of midfield.

Lesiotis cited having Luke Brattan, Osama Malik, Rostyn Griffiths and Kearyn Baccus ahead of him in the pecking order as a factor in his decision to leave.

Only Griffiths remains, although it’s food for thought whether we’d have signed Adrian Luna, or witnessed the emergence of Connor Metcalfe and Denis Genreau, had he stayed.

Regardless, having seen how he’s made an impact across town, City fans longing for home-grown products to take the club forward would have him back in a heartbeat. - AW

6. Andrea Migliorini

Nine appearances, three goals, 2013-14

Can you remember the eight matches Andrea Migliorini played for Melbourne Heart that weren’t against Adelaide United? No, neither can we.

It’s debatable whether we’ve had a short-lived import that is remembered as fondly as Migliorini among the faithful.

The Italian was scouted by Vince Grella and joined Heart as an injury replacement for marquee Orlando Engelaar, who broke a leg in a pre-season friendly.

Migliorini’s first five matches were inconspicuous, although he did net a deflected free-kick against Newcastle.

But he etched himself into club folklore a week later, in December 2013, scoring an absurd brace in a 3-3 draw against the Reds.

The first goal was as good as the A-League has seen. Here was a no-name signing rocketing a swerving, dipping shot from distance into a top corner. Simon Hill’s commentary is a joy to listen back to. His second goal that day wasn’t bad either.

Migliorini played three more matches for the club and finished his stint without a win.

His career since reads like a list of fine Italian wines – Delta Porto Tolle, Pordenone, Mestre, Messina, Cavese.

The latest destination is Lecco, in the coronavirus-hit region of Lombardy. We hope he’s well. - AW

5. Aaron Hughes

Six appearances, one goal, 2015-16

Aaron Hughes only made four more appearances for Melbourne City in the 2015-16 season than he did for Northern Ireland at the 2016 Euros.

Even approaching 36, the defender looked a decent-enough signing, having carved out lengthy stints with Newcastle and then Fulham.

He had to wait for Round 6 to make an inauspicious debut, injuring his calf in the first half, and did not return until Round 11.

The rest of his appearances came in January 2016, highlighted by a goal in the aforementioned 2-2 draw against Sydney.

Hughes wasn’t seen again for City, and was released at the end of the campaign, but did start two of Northern Ireland’s three Euros fixtures months later.

It invoked precious memories of Michael Mifsud getting Maltese national team call-ups while running around with the Heart youth team. - MA

4. Craig Goodwin

Four appearances, 2011-12