Gone are the days of Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell lighting up the Premier League and now recent history has shown a lack of impact of Australian players trying to make it in the Premier League. We look at some of the names in the past and some of the recent players who haven’t quite made the grade.
What has happened to Australian representation in the Premier League?
Going back only 10 years and Australians had a rich history of representation in the Premier League. That has now changed. We look at some of the past successes and look at some recent players who haven’t been able to make the step up
Significant players of the past
If you asked any football fan which Australian footballer in the Premier League do you think of first they would probably say Tim Cahill. Cahill had a good grounding in English football having played 100 odd games for Milwall in what’s now called the Championship before joining Everton in July 2004. 226 appearances for Everton, primarily as an attacking midfielder, in the Premier League scoring 56 goals and 23 assists is some record that he can rightly be proud of. He’s now retired but given his prominence compared to the current lack of players it’s hard to think that his last season was only 9 years ago.
Harry Kewell played 274 Premier League games for Leeds United and then Liverpool. He’s the only Australian player to have won the Champions League having done so in that historic win of Liverpool’s over AC Milan in 2005. In 2012, he was named Australia’s greatest footballer in a vote by Australian fans, players and media. He’s now retired from playing football with his last season in the Premier League being 2007/8. He became a manager after his playing career ended managing Crawley Town and Notts County before becoming recently sacked as manager of League 2’s Oldham Athletic.
Mark Bosnich had an impressive record as a goalkeeper in the Premier League with 208 appearances for Aston Villa, Manchester United and Chelsea. He came directly from Sydney United’s under 19 side to Manchester United before going to Aston Villa 2 years later on a free transfer. He ended his Premier League career in 2001/2 and is now obviously retired
Some other players of note
Mark Schwarzer, Mark Viduka, Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill, Mile Jedinak and Robbie Slater are all Australians who had some longevity in their Premier League career.
Which Australians are in the Premier League now?
Only Mathew Ryan
In contrast to years gone by the only Australian in the Premier League now is goalkeeper Matt Ryan and he’s a reserve goalkeeper to Bernd Leno. He transferred to Arsenal from Brighton after losing his place to Robert Sanchez. He has the ignominy of being the goalkeeper with the worst save % in the Premier League this season by quite some distance
Who in recent years has also also been and gone
A Central midfielder who played 96 games in the Premier League for 9 goals and 6 assists for Huddersfield and Brighton with his last season being 19/20. Came as an A League star from Melbourne City to Man City before moving to Huddersfield. A solid if not particularly spectacular player for lower placed Premier League teams.
A goalkeeper who came from the lower leagues to Bournemouth in the Premier League but only managed 31 Premier League appearances for Reading and Bournemouth with his last season being 16/17
The 26 year old left back was born in Australia but moved and represented England at under 17, 9 and 21 levels. He started for the Liverpool under 18 team and made 5 Liverpool Premier League appearances before being transferred to Bournemouth where he never really established himself in the team only making 5 Premier League appearances in 16/17 and none in 17/18. He now plays for Seattle Sounders
What are the reasons for the decline?
There are some theories that the A League’s academy structure and league itself doesn’t do enough to produce top class talent and changes have generally been recognised to be needed so the leagues and Football Australia had agreed to unbundle the structure.
However the situation may not be more complex than how far and wide the Premier League now casts it’s net globally compared to years gone by meaning there is far more competition for places in the Premier League due to the increased number of European, South American and African players that ply their trade and that are scouted by the Premier League clubs
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