Players from far and wide have graced our shores over the years, bringing their talents, and even families to Australia.
Life in the Isuzu UTE A-League has been a treat for many, and for a number of imports, they fell in love with the country. So much so, they became Australian citizens.
KEEPUP looks at the list of naturalised players within the history of the A-League Men.
One of the A-Leagues finest imports, Berisha stands alone as the all-time leading scorer in the men’s competition. The tenacious striker – who has 18 international caps across Albania and Kosovo – fell in love with Australia almost immediately after first being prised to our shores by then-Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou in 2011.
A cult hero, he won four Championships across Brisbane and Melbourne Victory before becoming an Aussie citizen in 2019. A productive spell with Western United followed and while he left Australia last year, the 36-year-old remains an Aussie at heart and on paper.
“I am forever thankful, I thought I was just going to play for seven months and return back to Europe but I just fell in love, I felt home in Australia already in the first year,” former Hamburg frontman Berisha said previously.
“The chance came for me to become an Australian citizen, it was really easy for me. This country helped me in the toughest moments in my career, returning here everyone had open arms for me and my family.”
The heart and soul of Central Coast Mariners, the English-born former midfielder has not looked back since moving to Gosford in 2012, with the 40-year-old now head coach and preparing for an FFA Cup final.
Montgomery spent 12 years as a professional with Sheffield United, however, he endeared himself to the Mariners faithful and community as soon as he touched down on the coast.
Named Mariners captain in 2015 after tasting championship glory two years earlier, Montgomery became an Australian citizen in 2017, having made the bold decision to relocate from Sheffield.
“To have young children and see them outdoors and enjoying life with all the activities Australia has to offer, we said, let’s get permanent residency,” he said at the time.
“We now have so many good friends out here, so it was a great moment when we were awarded Australian citizenship on Australia Day.”
A Sky Blues legend, McFlynn enjoyed a 14-year association with Sydney, dating back to the inception of the A-League Men.
The popular Northern Irishman swapped Morecambe in the UK for Sydney ahead of their inaugural campaign under German manager Pierre Littbarski in 2005. It was the start of something special.
A pair of Premierships and Championships followed during his time with the Sky Blues, while the one-club player was one of the first members of Sydney’s Hall of Fame as he took up permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
McFlynn is now working as Perth Glory’s football operations manager.
The naturalised Australian provided plenty of memories for Roar fans.
Initially brought to Suncorp Stadium on loan as an injury-replacement player, the Brazilian livewire impressed coach Frank Farina immediately, but it was under Postecoglou that he truly flourished.
Henrique enjoyed two spells with Brisbane, in between a stint at Adelaide United, but the 36-year-old’s first period as a Roar player yielded three Championships and two Premierships.
He also famously scored the winning penalty in the 2011 Grand Final. The “people’s champion” became a citizen in 2015.
“I didn’t expect to be here for a decade. From the very first day, I fell in love with the city and Australia,” Henrique said in 2019.
“I got my citizenship and my family is happy so I’m going to be around.”
Bernardo Oliveira is following in the footsteps of his father Cassio, who paved the way in Adelaide.
Former Flamengo left-back Cassio is a name synonymous with the Reds and it dates back to his first year at Coopers Stadium in 2007. The Brazilian became a fan favourite, winning numerous individual honours.
Within five years of his time in Adelaide, the 42-year-old became an Australian citizen during a special ceremony on the hallowed turf of the club’s ground in 2012.
“I would never have imagined that I’d come here to play soccer and now I’m an Australian citizen. It’s not just about the soccer but about lifestyle as well, I really love being here,” Cassio said at the time.
“I would hate to think that if I left Australia and wanted to come back that I couldn’t come back permanently, but now I can come and stay here anytime. I feel like a real Australian now.”
Adelaide made such a mark on Carrusca that the Argentinean decided to become an Australian citizen in 2017.
A league winner with Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray, Carrusca moved to Australia via the Reds in 2012, playing five seasons in Adelaide.
A standout performer, Carrusca delivered a Premiership, Championship and FFA Cup trophy to the club. The 38-year-old did move on to Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers, though the former Estudiantes midfielder returned to Adelaide in 2019.
“Why I did it (become an Australian citizen)? I want to give my kids an opportunity to live permanently in this great city, great country and I’m thinking about their future,’’ said Carrusca during the ceremony.
“I’ve done it for their future rather than thinking about myself but I’m a citizen because of Adelaide United. I like almost everything about this city and country.
“If you work hard you can get whatever you want and you can achieve a house, you can be financially independent and because here it’s very safe compared to my country.
“The economy is good, education is also very good and there’s a lot of things I balanced to make the decision. My kids will live in a safe environment with nice people.”
Former Republic of Ireland international Keogh moved to Australia in 2014 and he has been a consistent performer in his three spells with the Glory.
The ex-Wolves and Leeds United striker hit the ground running in the A-Leagues and while he has bounced around at Ratchaburi and NorthEast United in between, the 35-year-old has always felt at home in Western Australia.
Keogh, who was named head coach of Perth-based club Inglewood in 2017 before stepping down the following year, received his citizenship in November 2020.
The 12-time Ivory Coast international is still wreaking havoc on A-Leagues defenders and attackers, having first impressed on trial at the now defuncted Gold Coast United in 2009.
After the collapse of Gold Coast, Traore joined Victory in 2012 and stated his desire to play for the Socceroos.
Traore was ineligible to represent Australia, but he did gain his citizenship in 2013.
After periods in Portugal, Switzerland Turkey, the 31-year-old returned to Victory in 2019 before relocating to Western Sydney, following his release in Melbourne.
Jean Carlos Solorzano
If you have a quick search, you’ll see Solorzano is still kicking around in Queensland’s NPL.
The 34-year-old Costa Rican forward has made Australia home after officially becoming a citizen in 2020.
Solorzano also played for Victory, but it is with the Roar that the one-time Costa Rica international made his name – he fired the Roar to A-Leagues glory in 2010-11 and again in 2013-14.
He has spent time in the Australian state leagues, impressing at Lions FC and Brisbane City, in particular.
Solorzano also reunited with the Roar in an FFA Cup last-16 tie in October last year.
Germano travelled to Australia in 2011 and surprised Melbourne Heart/City with his talent. The versatile Argentine defender and midfielder made himself at home in the A-Leagues and while it was only a four-year relationship, it was full of passion and tenacity.
Since leaving the club in 2015, the 33-year-old became an Australian citizen in 2017 and has been playing for Avondale FC in Victoria’s NPL.
“After I played for Melbourne City, I wanted another chance to play in the A-League but no clubs came and talked to me,” he told theffacup.com.au in 2018.
“But this club in the NPL opened the door for me and they did a lot for me, for my family and I choose to stay in Melbourne.
“One, because they helped me with my visa – I’m an Australian citizen now – and I’m so happy to play and give everything for this team because it means a lot for me and I want to go through in the FFA Cup to help them in another way because they’ve done a lot for me.”
One of Adelaide’s best signings, the former Espanyol midfielder travelled to South Australia in 2013 and the Spanish maestro capped his debut campaign with the Player of the Year Award.
Isaias won a Premiership, Championship and two FFA Cups in his first stint as a Red across six years, which also saw him receive citizenship in 2019.
Having taken up an opportunity abroad, the popular 34-year-old returned to Adelaide last year.
“The first time when I arrived here it was more like an adventure for me,” he said.
“Like another experience in my career and now my thoughts are completely different.”
Iacopo La Rocca
Western Sydney entered the A-Leagues with a bang following their inception in 2012.
Former Lazio youth-team player La Rocca was part of an incredibly successful time at the Wanderers, where the Italian-Australian hoisted the 2014 AFC Champions League trophy aloft in an unprecedented moment in Australian football. He also became the first Italian to win the title.
La Rocca also won the 2012-13 Premiership and shared the 2014 Joe Marston Medal with Thomas Broich before taking his talents to Adelaide.
With the Reds, the 37-year-old added another Premiership and Championship to his collection. La Rocca became an Australian citizen in his second season prior to the switch to City.
A Republic of Ireland U21 international, O’Donovan remains in Australia with NSW NPL outfit Sydney Olympic.
Having previously played for the likes of Sunderland and Coventry City, O’Donovan was first lured to Australia by the Mariners and he finished his maiden season Down Under as the club’s Golden Boot winner and recipient of the A-League Men Goal of the Season.
He controversially joined F3 rivals Newcastle Jets in 2017 and guided the club to the 2018 Grand Final, in which he was sent off. A season with the Roar was followed by a return to the Hunter Valley in 2020-21.
During his second stint with the Jets, the 36-year-old became an Australian citizen in 2020.
“We came to Newcastle and really felt like we had found a home here. I’d travelled elsewhere for football but never for more than two or three years at a time,” O’Donovan said. “You can’t beat the lifestyle here, especially for raising a family, with so many beautiful parks and beaches at your doorstep.
“We’re extremely honoured and proud to become Australian citizens.”