Five Hyundai A-League players who came back to haunt their former clubs

 

A host of players are set to face their former club for the first time when the Hyundai A-League season commences this weekend.

But perhaps the biggest story of them all is Brendon Santalab, who welcomes Western Sydney Wanderers to Perth on Sunday evening in a match that also doubles as Tony Popovic's first hit-out against his old employers.

The former Wanderers duo shared a litany of happy memories in Western Sydney, with Santalab scoring 38 goals in total after arriving in 2013/14 and becoming a club legend with the Red and Black.

LAUNCH: Fresh faces and returning heroes unite
IMPORTANT INFO: How to watch the Hyundai A-League Round 1 
READ: Five of the most dramatic Melbourne Derbies

But the veteran marksman could spoil the Hyundai A-League debut of Markus Babbel and break Western Sydney hearts when he lines up against the club where he is still fondly regarded.

Here, we look at five notable examples where Hyundai A-League players have come back to haunt their former club.

Sebastian Ryall against Melbourne Victory

Torrents of abuse and beer cups were hurled at Sebastian Ryall when the Sydney FC fullback warmed up for the Sky Blues late in his side’s Australia Day Big Blue clash in 2012.

Sydney were trailing 2-1 to their fierce rivals and Ryall’s old club Melbourne Victory when he entered the eye of the storm.

But incredibly, the youngster would score a last-minute equaliser – his first Hyundai A-League goal no less – to silence the critics and seal a remarkable comeback draw for Sydney.

Ryall
Seb Ryall is mobbed by teammates and fans after a heart-stopping Big Blue goal in 2012.

Terry Antonis against Sydney FC

Things were looking bleak for Terry Antonis at the full-time whistle of Melbourne Victory's thrilling Grand Final qualifier against Sydney FC last season.

Kevin Muscat's side seemed destined to hang on and book their spot in the big dance only for the ex-Sky Blues midfielder to hack the ball into his own net deep into stoppage time.

However, Antonis would go from zero to hero in the second half of extra-time, embarking on a remarkable run from halfway before firing away the winner and securing Victory an unprecedented sixth Grand Final berth.

Terry Antonis

Besart Berisha against Brisbane Roar

It seemed only inevitable that the Hyundai A-League’s arch protagonist and master marksman would find the back of the net against his former club Brisbane Roar at some point after his move from Queensland to Melbourne Victory for the 2014/15 season.

Berisha had endeared himself as a true club legend at Suncorp Stadium and moved to Melbourne with a heavy heart, but there would be no holding back when the Albanian striker returned to his former stomping ground in April 2015.

The Victory striker finished a well-weighted pass from Fahid Ben Khalfallah in the 22nd minute as Kevin Muscat’s side firmed their position at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder.

Berisha

Matt Simon against Central Coast Mariners

Matt Simon was the Central Coast Mariners’ all-time leading goal scorer when he was discarded by the Gosford club in August 2015.

After reuniting with former Mariners boss Graham Arnold at Sydney FC, the stage was set for Simon to remind the Central Coast what they’d lost when the two teams faced off in Gosford only months later.

Arriving into the match as second-halflf substitute, Simon netted a brace as Sydney went on to win 3-1, with the forward's clenched fist raised toward the sky only further rubbing salt in the Mariners' wounds.

Simon

Michael Beauchamp against Sydney FC

It was the just the second ever Sydney derby, and the first to be played on Sydney’s home soil.

Michael Beauchamp had played 28 matches for the Sky Blues before becoming the inaugural captain of the Western Sydney Wanderers in 2012.

And the former Sydney defender would come back to haunt his former employers with a 77th minute match sealer for Tony Popovic’s side.

The towering centre back slid home at the back post and then celebrated with the mass of Wanderers fans in a memorable first-ever derby win for the Red and Black.

BEACH

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