A-League: Greatest XI of all-time

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The much anticipated A-League All-Stars vs Manchester United game is just over one week away.

So far we've seen five Western Sydney Wanderers announced for the squad, plus Sydney FC midfielder Brett Emerton and Brisbane Roar playmaker Thomas Broich.

More selections are to be unveiled before the 13 July, when the full squad is set to be announced.

The All-Stars concept has inspired related discussions as to what the best A-League XI of all-time is.

There have been some memorable players and outstanding individual seasons from stars that have seen them very quickly catch the eyes of overseas scouts before being whisked away to the big leagues in Europe.

This squad is all about an outstanding contribution to the A-League over a number of seasons. So without further ado, here is the greatest A-League XI of all-time.

Goalkeeper: Michael Theo (Melbourne Victory & Brisbane Roar)

You don’t win four titles in a league that has spanned eight seasons and not at least come into consideration.

The A-League has witnessed some brilliant shot stoppers in its short history (Matthew Ryan, Mitch Langerak, Ante Čović, just to name a few) but none have been as hard to get past as Theo.

After spending the first four years of his A-League career at Melbourne Victory, Theo had an unsuccessful stint in England before returning to the A-League to be part of Brisbane Roars back-to-back title winning team - a feat yet to be matched.

Even when not winning titles, Theo is still crucial to the Brisbane defence, managing a total of 86 saves last season, second only to Eugene Galekovic.

Right-back: Pedj Bojić (Central Coast Mariners & Sydney FC)

The only thing missing from Bojić’s resumé before last season was a championship. Now he has that, there is no doubt Bojić is the most impressive full-back in the A-League.

For the past 5 years, the right side of Blue Tongue Stadium has been dominated by the Central Coast Mariners fan favourite. Since the end of last season, Bojić has signed a two-year deal with Sydney FC in a move that now completes the Sky Blues’ back four as the most ruthless in the league.

Central-defender: Patrick Zwaanswijk (Central Coast Mariners)

Another Mariners fan favourite, it is as hard to get past Zwaanswijk as it is to spell his name.

Recently retired after a championship winning season with Central Coast, the Dutchman made a name for himself as a set-piece taker, scoring some miraculous goals in his time.

Always keen to get on the scoresheet, Zwaanwijk scored his last goal in the 2013 Grand Final where the Mariners were victorious over A-League first timers Western Sydney Wanderers.

Central-defender: Saša Ognenovski (Brisbane Roar & Adelaide United)

Before making a name for himself as one of the most solid defenders in recent Socceroos history, the giant was plying his trade in the early years of the A-League.

Although he never won an A-League championship, Ognenovski still remains one of the trickiest and toughest defenders to get past in A-League history.

Left-back: Michael Zullo (Brisbane Roar)

When Adama Traore has a fully fit season and/or wins a championship, he will be the best left-back in the A-League. Until then, Zullo takes the accolade.

Leaving Brisbane Roar at the end of the 2009/10 season after an impressive three years, Zullo now plays for Dutch side FC Utrecht along with other Brisbane Roar teammates, Tommy Oar and Adam Sarota.

The young Socceroo, at 24-years-old, is tipped to be the first-choice left-back for Australia next year in Brazil.

Central defensive-midfielder: Mark Milligan (Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets & Melbourne Victory)

Part of the inaugural championship winning side with Sydney FC, its remarkable to think Milligan is only 27-years-old.

Over the last season and a half, Milligan has come of age under Ange Postecoglou at Melbourne Victory, winning the club’s best and fairest award earlier this year ahead of young Johnny Warren medallist, Marco Rojas.

The New South Welshman has also shone on the international stage recently, being a key part of Australia’s World Cup Qualification campaign.

Despite Mile Jedinak’s impressive season at Crystal Palace in England that saw them promoted to the Premier League, Milligan may just be the best holding midfielder Australia has on current form.

Right-midfielder: Robbie Kruse (Brisbane Roar & Melbourne Victory)

Although he was often seen scoring more goals than he was setting them up, Kruse remains to be one of the most creative young midfielders the A-League has seen.

While his attitude at Brisbane saw him very quickly shunned by the rest of the playing group, Kruse turned his career around after departing to Melbourne Victory.

After a scintillating season that saw him earn Melbourne Victory’s Young Player of the Year award, scouts from Europe were all over him and it wasn’t long before he was playing in one of the biggest leagues in the world.

While that short summary may contradict what was earlier said in the article, Kruse provided an amazing highlights reel in his 65 games in the A-League and is fully deserving of a spot in the best A-League team of all time.

He has recently joined German side Bayer Leverkusen, where he is set to play in the UEFA  Champions League.

Left-midfielder: Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar)

Captain of a championship winning team before headed off to Scottish Premier League giants Glasgow Rangers, it’s hard not to include McKay as one of the A-League’s best.

Part of Brisbane since their inaugural season, few have worked harder than McKay to be where he is today.

During his time at Brisbane, the Gary Wilkins medallist would thrive on any chance he had to play.

On hard work and dedication alone, McKay is one of the best midfielders in A-League history.

Central attacking-midfielder: Thomas Broich (Brisbane Roar)

Who else? Aside from being the best export in the A-League, the German has won two championships, a Johnny Warren medal, a Foreign Player of the Season award, a Team of the Season award, and a Gary Wilkins medal.

Last season alone he had 11 assists, three more than the next best. At 80 games, 11 goals, and 33 assists, Broich is the best midfielder in A-League history.

Centre-forward: Shane Smeltz (Wellington Phoenix, Gold Coast United & Perth Glory)

Current record holder for the most goals in A-League history with a running total of 73 goals, it’s surely a matter of time before Smeltz wins a championship.

With a Johnny Warren medal and two Golden Boots to his name, it’s the only thing he’s missing.

With or without a title, Smeltz is still the best striker in the A-League.

Centre-forward: Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory)

Only four goals behind Smeltz, the most recognisable face in the A-League.

While he may only have one Golden Boot to his name, Thompson does have two championships, as well as two Melbourne Victory best and fairest medals. The much loved striker has been with Victory from the very start.

Archie has been one half of some of the A-League’s finest attacking combinations, including his partnership with Marco Rojas last season that saw the Melbourne side turn their fortunes around from a disappointing previous season.

If he is in similar form this coming season, he may just catch Smeltz’s record, too.

Is there anyone missing? Have your say in the comments section below.


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