England's King crowns Del Piero, Fowler and Heskey among Hyundai A-League's best

They came, they saw, they conquered. The likes of Juventus and Italy great Alessandro Del Piero and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler left an important legacy for the Hyundai A-League.

Del Piero's legendary antics while on the books of Sydney FC from 2012-2014 elevated Australian football to new heights, while England star Fowler's signature for North Queensland Fury in 2009 was hailed as a landmark moment for the competition.

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It is this pioneering impact on the competition which former Tottenham Hotspur and England defender Ledley King believes is crucial for the continued growth of Australian football.

“We’ve seen players come over, big-game players like [Alessandro] Del Piero, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey,” King said.

“We’ve seen people have come over and tried to improve the league. Whenever you have players of that ilk come over you want it to translate all the way down.

Ledley King challenges Robbie Fowler during a Premiership match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in 2000

“You want their teammates to see how professional they are, and what it takes to get to the top level.

“You want that to filter down to the younger players, and into the youth and grassroots so they can see what it takes to get to the top of their industry.”

Alessandro Del Piero
Del Piero scored 24 goals in 48 appearances for Sydney FC between 2012 and 2014

Former Premier League defender King, who won 21 caps for England and is now an ambassador for Spurs, who this weekend move into their new stadium, has been in Australia to launch a new footballing partnership between the Premier League club and the University of Wollongong.

The global football development program will be offered on campus from January 2020 and will see FA and UEFA-qualified coaches from the Premier League club pass on their experience to applicants wishing to pursue a career in football while studying.

“It’s a great partnership, [which] allows students to combine study with their passion for playing football,” King said.

“It’s great for the students who still have aspirations for making a career in the game.

“And if not, there’s other opportunities – coaching, analytics or even in another industry altogether. It’s a great opportunity to give yourself a chance to do something you love doing.”

Image credit: University of Wollongong