6 Best Australian Soccer Players of All-Time
This article celebrates Australian Soccer and lists the six greatest Aussie players of all time.
Almost all of these men have featured in World Cups and many have graced the upper echelons of British and European football.
Due to the stiff competition and the underrated productivity of the nation’s sports fields, the likes of Lucas Neill, Mark Bosnich and Mark Bresciano have failed to make the cut.
Read on to discover which six made Bleacher Report’s final list and why they are heralded among the finest their nation has ever produced.
Mr. Australia, the late Johnny Warren was the heart and soul of football Down Under until his passing in 2004. “Captain Socceroo” was part of the national side that qualified for the World Cup in 1974 and wept mournfully when the team failed to make the 2002 tournament.
The midfielder was an inspirational leader and a terrific player, driving his team forward from his berth in the heart of the pitch. He earned 62 caps for the Socceroos and was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
Warren can take credit for the recent successes of the national side as few Australians have done more for the nation’s sport than he. Following the end of his playing days, he worked as a journalist and a commentator, never hesitating to comment on and critique football in the country.
The tenacious midfielder earned his place in the hearts of fans both for his attitude and for his handy knack of scoring crucial goals at crucial moments. On numerous occasions he was the Toffees’ saviour, while his goals against Japan in the 2006 World Cup kick-started a famous campaign.
Now in the latter stages of his career, enjoying life in the MLS with New York Red Bulls, Cahill will be looking forward to next summer, a third World Cup and a career swansong with Australia.
Born in South Africa and an England youth international, Johnston may seem like a strange choice for this list. However, the neglected former Liverpool man was born to Australian parents and lived on the island for the majority of his youth.
It was at Anfield that he made his name and was a maelstrom of an enigma from 1981 to 1988, some of the club’s most glorious years. Despite never being a guaranteed a spot in the first XI, the midfielder won nine major honours in seven years, including a European Cup in 1984.
The super-fit Johnston offered endless running, exhilarating skill and searing pace, but was, like some others on this list, a hot head—a trait which doubtless cost him the undisputed confidence of Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.
With five league titles however, it’s hard not to consider Johnston among Australia’s greatest ever exports.
Captain of the 2006 World Cup team, the temperamental Viduka made his name as a goal-scorer, offering clinical finishing and devastating forward play for a number of sides in four different countries.
He enjoyed the pinnacle of Leeds United’s third era of glory after the turn of the Millennium, but was offloaded in 2004 with the club’s financial plight worsening.
Stints in the Northeast with Middlesbrough and Newcastle followed, before Viduka hung up his boots in 2009.
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing recently summed up the striker’s influence in a recent Q&A session online. Ignoring the claims of current teammates Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, as well as England colleagues Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard, Downing named the Australian forward as the finest player he’d ever played with.
The temper may have exploded at times and the petulance may have occasionally verged on the embarrassing, but few can argue against Viduka’s effectiveness in the final third.
Mark Bosnich may have been a glamorous and supremely talented stopper, but Mark Schwarzer is the “bread and butter”, the “goods in the back” and, quite simply, the finest keeper ever to emerge from Oceania.
Having been international stopper for 20 years, Schwarzer is a model of consistency, reliability and longevity. It is to his credit that he shows no signs of slowing, next season will bring him the challenge of a battle with Peter Cech for the No. 1 spot at Chelsea and a spot in next summer’s World Cup squad.
Australia’s most capped player should relish the dual battles.
For Middlesbrough and Fulham he both excelled as custodian between the sticks and exudes confidence, influencing those ahead of him and strengthening the whole defensive unit. International challenges come in the form of Adam Federici, Brad Jones and Mitchell Langerak, but it will take an enormous effort for any of the three to unseat the Aussies’ greatest-ever stopper.
While it can be hard to consider Harry Kewell’s career beyond the myriad of injuries and litany of disappointments, the Melbourne Heart man has been a wonderful talent and arguably the finest player Australia has ever produced.
As a precocious 17-year-old he burst onto the scene with Leeds United and Australia, making both his Premier League and international debut within the space of a month. In those early years in West Yorkshire he was one of the EPL’s stand-out youngsters and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2000.
It was meant to be the start of a remarkable career.
Unfortunately, a collection of poor decisions and horrific injuries have stymied his progress. His finest hour, Liverpool’s Champions League victory in 2005, was marred by his being substituted at half time—the first 45 a forgettable, uninfluential, off-the-pace cameo that, in many ways, was a microcosm of his Anfield career.
Despite his ultimate failure to realise that awesome potential, Kewell is still the most creative, dazzling talent the continent of Australasia has ever produced. He rightfully deserves his place in this list.