Through the years, the Premier League has been the division of choice for some of Australia’s most iconic stars. While some graduated through youth academies in West Yorkshire, others were plying their trade in Croatia and Scotland before eventually finding a footballing home in England. So, let’s take a look at three of the best Australians to ever grace the Premier League.
Having started his career with Marconi Stallions, Harry Kewell made the switch to Leeds United in 1995 after enjoying a successful trial with the three-time English league title winners. The left winger played 220 matches for the Peacocks and, during that time, scored 55 goals and assisted a further nine, according to Transfermarkt.
Back in July 2009, Kewell completed a £5 million move to Liverpool after impressing during his time at Leeds. Having been part of one of English football’s most exciting attacking line-ups at Elland Road, the former head coach of Notts County went to Anfield and added the famous Champions League trophy to his collection. Even though he came off with a groin injury after just 23 minutes, the historic night in Istanbul saw Kewell become the first Australian to win the trophy, before Zeljko Kalac later won it two years later.
Despite suggestions that, given his undeniable talent, Kewell never fulfilled his full potential, the now 41-year-old is an icon of Australian football. He’s held in high regard by those in his own country, primarily because he symbolises the rise of Australian football on the international stage.
Much like Kewell, Mark Viduka also made a name for himself as an unsung hero of the Premier League with a string of impressive displays during his time in West Yorkshire. In 2000, David O’Leary signed the former Australian national team captain for £6 million from Celtic. Across his 240 Premier League games, the man described as a lazy enigma found the net on 92 occasions, with 68 of those goals coming during his four years at Leeds. Viduka is fondly remembered by the Leeds faithful, with his four-goal match-winning performance against Liverpool living long in the memory.
Despite there being several popular sports in Australia, including the Australian Football League, where, prior to its suspension, teams such as Greater Western Sydney were among the frontrunners to be crowned the Grand Final winners with Aussie Rules betting, English football remains deeply of interest because of the influence of players like Viduka. Leeds are now one of many established sides in England to have left their mark on Australia, with fan clubs now set up in both Adelaide and Sydney.
Upon his retirement, Tim Cahill left an everlasting legacy on Australian football. In his own right, and in relation to longevity, the former Everton midfielder established himself as the greatest player in the country’s international history playing 108 games, the most of any Australian. The now 40-year-old is the epitome of a big-game player, as demonstrated by him scoring a goal worthy of a Puskas nomination against the Netherlands in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup.
In comparison to the above names, Cahill played 226 games in England’s top-flight, during which time he scored 56 and assisted 23. Throughout his career, the attacking midfielder has played a vital role in expanding the reach of Australian football, as he, during the latter stages of his playing days, transferred to clubs in America, China and India.
Their Influence Shouldn’t be Understated
Ultimately, while it’s impossible to say what the outlook of Australian football would have looked like without the above players, it’s clear that they have significantly influenced the future of Australia’s footballing world. From Champions League winners to international wonder goals and record-breaking moments, Cahill, Kewell, and Viduka are without question three of the best Australians to ever play in the Premier League.