Two Qantas Socceroos come in at the top of our list of the best defenders the league has ever seen.
Two stalwarts of Australian football came in at number three and four and two more of them will occupy the top two spots in our countdown of the best defenders in Hyundai A-League history
2. Sasa Ognenovski (Queensland Roar, Adelaide United) The current Qantas Socceroos central defender really launched his career during the latter part of his stint in the Hyundai A-League.
Long a stalwart of the Australian football scene, Ognenovski was one of those footballers that got better with age and a big part of that was likely due to playing alongside Craig Moore in his final season at the then Queensland Roar, during that season Ognenovski really came of age and that continued when he went to Adelaide United and became part of a team, that although they took home zero silverware had an amazing season, especially defensively.
In the 21 games that made up the regular season Ognenovski led the Adelaide United defence in the middle and they conceded just 19 goals for the season on their way to a Grand Final against Melbourne Victory, which they eventually lost 1-0.
That wasn-t their season done though; they would go on to make the final of the AFC Champions League, before ultimately falling to Gamba Osaka in a lop-sided final.
Ultimately though Ognenovski played a huge part in both campaigns, scoring three goals along the way, proving he could get it done at both ends of the park.
Since then he has improved further and had a superb year in 2010 with Seongnam, claiming the AFC Champions League, the AFC Champions League Player of the Year and also the Asian Player of the Year award.
1. Kevin Muscat (Melbourne Victory)
Controversial? Absolutely. Passionately loved? Sure. Passionately loathed? Definitely.
Regarded by his detractors as a football thug of the worst kind, Kevin Muscat polarised the footballing public and media for most of his near 20-year career.
If Muscat was on your team, you likely loved him and that was definitely the case during his time at Melbourne Victory, but if he wasn-t on your team you likely hated him with a passion and Muscat never did his reputation any favours, leaving a litany of injured players in his wake with some meaty challenges and also some of the worst challenges football might have ever seen, just ask Adrian Zahra or Craig Bellamy.
There is no doubting on the pitch that Muscat was an angry man, even though he is well regarded by many when he is off the pitch. Footballing brutality aside, you can-t deny that Muscat was a winner, especially within the A-League, but more on that later.
Muscat was such a good player that he even captained the national side five times during the course of his career and scored a famous penalty against Uruguay in what would be a losing last ditch effort at FIFA World Cup qualification.
Indeed his ability to net from the penalty spot and remain calm under pressure is quite legendary; he rarely missed, even though he did in the 2010 A-League decider, that miss was an anomaly in a career where he was amazingly successful from the penalty spot.
As a defender though, was where Muscat excelled and it was in his commitment to win the ball that he really shone. Did he get it wrong sometimes? Without a doubt, but most of the time he was brilliant at reading the play and also good with his distribution out of defence.
For an example of how well he organised his defenders and the impact he had, one need look no further than how poor the Victory have been since his retirement.
Their back four have looked rudderless ever since and despite the fine goalkeeping efforts of Tando Velaphi and Ante Covic have leaked goals constantly, which is a measure of the impact Muscat had on the side and their defence.
Muscat was also successful on both team and individual medals, claiming three Victory Medals and also being a part of two Victory sides that did the Premiership/Championship double.
At the end of the day his success and ability, despite his sometimes violent actions on the pitch, make Muscat the best defender the A-League has seen thus far.
The full top ten is as follows:
10 Michael Zullo, 9 Tony Popovic, 8 Alex Wilkinson, 7 Michael Thwaite, 6 Simon Colosimo, 5 Patrick Zwaanswijk, 4 Craig Moore, 3 Mark Rudan, 2 Sasa Ognenovski, 1 Kevin Muscat
The views in this article are those of the author, and do not represent those of Football Federation Australia