The English Premier League is said to be the greatest league in the world, and the fact that 49 Australians have graced it is testament to the talent on offer Down Under. With so many great players to choose from, it’s hard to say who deserves to be in a top ten. But there should be absolutely no question over which players belong in the top five. Here are the five greatest Australians ever to play in England’s top flight.
Schwarzer began his time in England at Bradford City, but only made 13 appearances for the club in the 1996-97 season. He got his first taste of Premier League football with Middlesbrough, and became a mainstay between 1997 and 2008, clocking up 367 appearances for the North-East side. Schwarzer then moved to Fulham before ‘Borough were relegated in 2008-09.
The man between the sticks confirmed that he turned down offers from Juventus and Bayern Munich to join the Cottagers, and he put in 172 appearances for the club. He played a key role in Fulham reaching the Europa League final in 2010, and ended the best days of his career with Mark Hughes’ side. After that the player sadly faded away with brief stints as a reserve goalkeeper with Chelsea and Leicester City.
4. Lucas Neill
In 188 matches for Rovers, Neill was, for a time, a cult hero. But after snubbing the club’s offer of a new contract in 2006 to join West Ham United, he became alienated with fans of the Riversiders. After 79 showings for The Irons, Neill saw out his Premier League days with Everton. The player will go down as one of the fiercest defenders in the league’s history.
3. Mark Viduka
Once again, Newcastle find themselves in the same situation as that fateful year. But as back then, due to the sheer might of the club they seem poised to return to the top division at the first time of asking. It would certainly be an unwise move to bet against them. In fact, some sites now give bonus bets to customers as an award for winning from their initial stake. Betting on Newcastle to beat most opponents this season could be a sure-fire way to earn that bonus, as the Magpies are now a formidable force under Rafa Benitez.
2. Harry Kewell
In the 1999-2000 season Kewell scored 17 goals across all competitions, and subsequently won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. This drew attention from Inter Milan who reportedly offered £25 million to buy the player, a proposition that Leeds turned down. The Australian attacker went on to become a key component in Leeds’ run to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2000-01, where they were knocked out by Valencia. Leeds’ failure to qualify for the competition the following year triggered the start of the Yorkshire club’s descent into oblivion, and Kewell, like Viduka, had to be sold. Kewell had made 181 league appearances for the Elland Road side, and scored 45 goals. Prior to joining Galatasaray in 2008 Kewell was a Leeds legend, but the move to the Turkish club left a sour taste in supporters’ mouths.
The last side Kewell played for in the Premier League was Liverpool, his boyhood club. He spent 5 years on Merseyside but only put in 93 league showings for the club and notched 12 goals. He was never too far from the treatment table and there was little fanfare when he left after failing to earn a new contract with the Anfield club.
1. Tim Cahill
In 2006 Cahill was even shortlisted for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award which made him the first Everton player in 18 years to be nominated. This highlighted just how much of an impression the Australian had made on the world stage.
Cahill went on to score 56 goals for Everton in 226 league appearances, making him the 8th top scorer ever for the Toffees. However, Romelu Lukaku looks set to leapfrog him this season. Cahill parted on good terms with the Merseyside club before moving to New York Red Bulls in 2012. He will always be a fan favourite at Everton, and his considerable contribution there is why he is number one on this list. He is also one of the most important Socceroos players of all time, with an amazing record of 48 goals in 94 games for his country.
These players have certainly set the benchmark for Australians who want to ply their trade in the Premier League. And they have proved that it is possible for men from Down Under to become the greatest players at their clubs during their spells there. Perhaps the likes of Brad Smith at Bournemouth and Aiden O’Neill at Burnley will be able to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps.