ADP to 'God' himself: History of Hyundai A-League's international marquees

In a move which is turning heads around the world, Keisuke Honda has arrived in Melbourne. As a marquee signing, the Japan legend follows in the footsteps of a series of high-profile imports to grace the Hyundai A-League stage.

We reflect on some of the show-stopping marquee men that Honda will attempt to emulate during his time with Melbourne Victory.

MARQUEE SIGNING: Honda to light up Hyundai A-League as Victory land mega marquee
HOW IT UNFOLDED: Relive the announcement from our live ticker
FROM MOSCOW TO MILAN: Victory marquee Honda's road to stardom
READ MORE: How will Melbourne Victory accommodate their new Japanese superstar?
WHEN AND WHERE: How and when to watch Honda play this season
#WELCOMEHONDA: How social media reacted to the Honda announcement

2005/06 - DWIGHT'S DELIGHT

Sydney FC were crowned champions in the inaugural Hyundai A-League season and there was no bigger influence on their early success than Dwight Yorke.

The Manchester United great arrived in Australia with over 100 Premier League goals to his credit and instantly became the new competition's poster boy.

Yorke, who captained Trinidad & Tobago at the FIFA World Cup at the end of the season, netted seven goals for the Sky Blues, but his class really shone through in a deeper playmaking position, his crowning moment coming with an assist for current coach Steve Corica in the Grand Final win over Central Coast Mariners. 

While 'All Night Dwight' stole the show, another former Premier League player in Brian Deane was turning out for Perth Glory, while fan favourite Shengqing Qu brought guile, dead-ball ability and six goals to Adelaide United.

Dwight Yorke

2006/07 - SAMBA CIRCUS COMES TO TOWN

Though not strictly marquees, the arrivals of 1994 FIFA World Cup winner Romario and ex-Inter star Benito Carbone brought further sparkle in the league's sophomore season.

Exceptional performances from homegrown products Archie Thompson and Nick Carle meant the limelight was partially shifted away from the overseas imports, but that all changed with Adelaide's capture of Romario on a guest contract in late 2006.

The Brazilian legend generated huge publicity as he went in search of his 1000th career goal, a hunt ultimately unfulfilled by a lone strike in his final outing.

Carbone fared somewhat better in his three appearances as Yorke's successor at Sydney FC, scoring twice before negotiations over a longer deal broke down.

Romario

2007/08 -  'THE LITTLE FELLA' LANDS IN SYDNEY

Though they couldn't repeat the trophy-winning ways of Yorke's stint, Sydney FC again proved shrewd when it came to spotting marquees by luring former Middlesbrough magician Juninho away from his native Brazil.

The diminutive attacking midfielder, part of the Selecao's 2002 FIFA World Cup winning squad, was a delight to watch as he glided gracefully away from opposition markers until a knee injury sadly cut short his stay.

He would later provide a glowing recommendation of life Down Under that helped convince Bobo to join his former club.

Juninho David Beckham

2008/09 - THE CULT OF ZURA

Newcastle Jets made a splash in July 2008 when they snared enigmatic Ecuador international Edmundo Zura on loan.

Known for his exuberant goal celebrations, which often included a wrestling-style mask, Zura won his fair share of fans in the Hunter despite being unable to get on the scoresheet.

The Jets had hoped he would extend his stay, but homesickness and difficulties with the language were cited as reasons behind his struggles to settle.

Edmundo Zura

2009/10 - FOWLER FIRES

If anyone could challenge Yorke's status as the archetypal marquee - it was Robbie Fowler.

The man known as 'God' to Liverpool fans was a huge coup on and off the pitch for newcomers North Queensland Fury, netting nine times and signing many more replica shirts.

Fowler demonstrated that the quality which made him an England international was far from lost with a further nine goals the following season for Perth Glory.

He later reflected fondly on his time in the competition as a 'fantastic league'.

Robbie Fowler

2010/11 - SIBON A HEART-STARTER

The 'good touch for a big man' phrase was made for players like Gerald Sibon, who injected the club formerly known as Melbourne Heart with poise and experience.

A success at Sheffield Wednesday and Heerenveen, the mercurial striker bagged a handy seven goals in his only Hyundai A-League campaign.

Then-coach John van't Schip praised his countryman for being an 'invaluable' mentor to the squad's younger players.

Gerald Sibon

2011/12 - BROICH BACKS UP

An outstanding contributor to Brisbane Roar's breakthrough success of 2010/11, Thomas Broich was upgraded to a marquee deal the following season and delivered like few have done before or after.

The untouchable German was instrumental in making Roar the first team to complete back-to-back Championships, picking up the first of two Johnny Warren Medals for his efforts.

Elsewhere, Fred - the star of Victory's all-conquering 2006/07 side - added a dose of spice to the Melbourne Derby when he returned to Australia to sign on as marquee for crosstown rivals Heart.

It was to be a productive season for the headline acts, with Sergio van Dijk dispatching eight goals over in Adelaide.

Thomas Broich

2012/13 - THE BIG THREE

A host of international talent served up a blockbuster season and no star was bigger than Juventus icon Alessandro Del Piero.

Having left an enduring legacy in Serie A, the Italian legend ignited Australian football with huge fanfare following every step of his 14-goal debut season, which earned him a stack of individual awards at Sydney FC.

Del Piero wasn't the only marquee arrival to take the competition by storm.

Ex-Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey was snared by Newcastle Jets and buried nine goals from the point of attack, while 56-time Japan international Shinji Ono proved a hit as his unmissable playmaking masterminded the astonishing run of debutants Western Sydney Wanderers.

Alessandro Del Piero

2013/14 - ENGELAAR IN THE ENGINE ROOM

Any fears Hyundai A-League fans had of a dip in quality after the high of the previous season were resoundingly resolved by the ongoing excellence of Del Piero, Ono and Heskey.

Just as entertaining was the sight of Dutch giant Orlando Engelaar dominating in midfield for Heart.

Indeed, the former Schalke and PSV ace provided one of the competition's most enduring highlights, an insane goal from inside his own half against Central Coast Mariners in March 2014.

2014/15 - AWESOME AUSTRIAN

The departure of Del Piero left Sydney FC with big boots to fill, but the stellar scoring success of the towering Marc Janko softened the blow.

The imposing Austrian became the first ever player to score in seven consecutive Hyundai A-League matches and his 16 goals in 22 matches broke the scoring record set by his Italian predecessor the previous season.

He wasn't the only marquee man terrorising defences, with 13-goal Besart Berisha delivering on expectations for eventual champions Victory.

Marc Janko

2015/16 - THE ARMADA ARRIVES

As Adelaide United roared to success with help from Isaias and Pablo Sanchez, the Spanish influence was being felt across the competition.

Chief among the stars were proven La Liga players Diego Castro and Luis Garcia.

The latter arrived with a global profile enhanced by time at Barcelona and Liverpool, and while Gosford might have seemed an unlikely destination, the bond he developed with the Mariners faithful was clearly deep and mutual.

Garcia defied his advancing years to turn in 10 impressive performances for Central Coast, and yet even he was overshadowed by a special Castro season that included 13 goals, three assists and the Johnny Warren Medal.

Diego Castro

2016-17 - BOW DOWN TO BOBO

There was surely nothing incidental about the signing of Bobo and Graham Arnold's Sydney FC machine clicking into true life two seasons ago.

Recruited from Gremio, the Brazilian delivered 15 goals in a shimmering debut season underscored by silverware.

Bruno Fornaroli was just as brilliant for Melbourne City, the Uruguayan lashing in 17 goals in his first campaign as a marquee man.

Sydney FC striker Bobo is third in the rating when it comes to strikers in the Hyundai A-League for FIFA 18.

2017-18 - NEXT LEVEL NINKOVIC

Oriol Riera, Bobo and Massimo Maccarone made it a year to savour for star centre-forwards as the marquee trio combined for 51 Hyundai A-League goals.

It be remiss, of course, to overlook the support acts who supply them and there are none better than Milos Ninkovic.

The Sky Blues' Serbian playmaker took on an upgraded contract and maintained his supreme standards as Arnold's side defended the Premiers Plate.

Milos Ninkovic


MARQUEE SIGNING: Honda to light up Hyundai A-League as Victory land mega marquee
FROM MOSCOW TO MILAN: Victory marquee Honda's road to stardom
READ MORE: How will Melbourne Victory accommodate their new Japanese superstar?