7 forgotten ballers we can’t believe are still playing in Australia

Once a jolly bagsman camped by a billabong, under the shade of a crossbar tree. And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled. You’ll come and play in the A-League with me.

That’s the first verse of Waltzing Matilda, and what we’ve done is slightly alter the lyrics to fit what we’re discussing today — players we didn’t know were balling down under. Fullbacks in the outback, strikers in ‘Straya, and so on.

Here are seven players who caught our eye as we sifted through the squad lists of every club in Australia’s A-League.

Joe Lolley

Our grandad always used to say, “What’s your football team called again, son? You should be called The Lollipops because you’re always getting licked.”

Then he’d laugh heartily at his own joke.

Well, this ex-Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield winger actually was called Lolley (close enough) but there’s no one licking him. Took himself down under in 2022 so soak up the sun in Sydney and get A-League chalk on his boots. Nice.

Jack Rodwell

The wonderkid that wasn’t. Got his big shot at Man City after impressing as a youngster at Everton, but didn’t cut the mustard.

Spent the majority of his career in the hinterland between Premier League and Championship, and really tailed off after his final English move to Sheffield United.

Rodwell has rejuvenated his career in Australia, making the move with his family back to his wife’s motherland. After a season with West Sydney Wanderers, he made the move across the city to Sydney FC, where he remains to this day.

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Scott Wootton

As a youngster, Wootton played two League Cup games for Manchester United. And that was the end of that. A long tour of the EFL followed — nine clubs up and down the country. Proper journeyman stuff.

Wootton is now at the heart of Wellington Phoenix’s defence. We know—Wellington is in New Zealand—but they play in the A-League. Kind of a Cardiff and Swansea situation.

Valere Germain

Germain played almost 400 games in Ligue 1 and scored over 100 goals without ever really making a dent in the mainstream football consciousness outside of his native France.

Last year, the former France under-21 international got on the long, long flight to Sydney to join Macarthur FC, where he’s been scoring for fun.

Mathew Leckie

Leckie is a little different to many of the other ballers on this list. Leckie came up in Australia, earned himself an unusual move from Adelaide United to Borussia Monchengladbach, and made his name in the Bundesliga.

He even won the Asian Cup with Ange Postecoglou in 2015.

In 2021, the Aussie international returned to Australia to sign for Manchester City’s affiliates Melbourne City. Who doesn’t love a good homecoming story, ey?

Postecoglou joined Spurs in June 2023.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player Ange Postecoglou has used at Tottenham?

Curtis Good

When Newcastle United signed Good in the middle of the Alan Pardew era for $600,000 AUD, it came as a surprise to supporters.

The defender had only made 25 senior appearances for the club then known as Melbourne Heart (now Melbourne City), and was a complete unknown in the UK.

He made just two appearances for the Toon across six years, during which he spent a couple if years on loan but largely played for the reserves. Good has been back in Melbourne for the past six years.

Carl Jenkinson

Jenkinson probably enjoyed his best years in the UK during his two-year loan at West Ham, essentially the only time in his career he was a first-team regular.

After a loan move to Melbourne City in 2021-22, the boyhood Arsenal fan must’ve got a taste for the Aussie lifestyle, because the following season he signed for Newcastle Jets on a permanent. He’s on a two-year contract but once you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.

Little West Side Story reference for the cultured football fans among us, there.