Simon Hill’s greatest A-League entertainers

They’re the A-League stars who get fans through the gates; they’re the inspiration of chants, the creators of chaos and the X factor talent capable of turning a game on its head.

And, throughout his countless calls of A-League games, Simon Hill has seen them all – the entertainers, who endear themselves to their fans and neutrals alike, whilst striking fear into those who come against them. 

Read on as Simon Hill selects his greatest entertainer from every A-League club. 


The gifted Argentine once said that you have to treat the ball “like you treat your girlfriend.”

Flores was true to his word – his touch, ability to pick a pass and some wonder goals, including THAT strike against Newcastle Jets, all contributed to him becoming a Reds cult figure. 

Sadly for United fans, the 2010/11 season was to be his only one at Hindmarsh, and he never quite scaled the heights again with Melbourne Victory, Central Coast Mariners or Newcastle Jets. 

He left South Australia as the Johnny Warren Medallist for that one season in red – and is now back in Adelaide, passing on his knowledge to the next generation.

Marcos Flores


So good he had his own documentary.  Has there been a classier A-League player? 

Ange Postecoglou built a team around the cultured playmaker, and his artistry delivered (along with Besart Berisha and a few others), a multitude of titles for the Roar, along with that record-breaking 36-game unbeaten run. 

Broich, your thinking man’s footballer, found a real home in Queensland after the pressures of being a kid prodigy in Germany. 

He succeeded Flores as Johnny Warren Medallist, and ended up staying seven years at Suncorp.  Now working as a TV pundit back in his homeland.  Simply the best.  

Thomas Broich


Arguably the most gifted player of the current Socceroos generation, Tommy Rogic burst onto the scene with the Mariners in 2012. 

Graham Arnold handing a chance to a youngster who had fallen through the cracks in the Australian system, and immediately that wand of a left peg dazzled A-League crowds. 

He didn’t stay long in Gosford, with Celtic spotting his potential and netting the Mariners a fee reported to be in the region of $700,000. 

He remains in Glasgow to this day, but his 24 games and five goals in the yellow and blue will live long in the memory on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

Tomi Rogic


Rabonas, bicycle kicks, a slip of the tongue after an FFA Cup Final win – the Uruguayan is a headline writers dream, and for Melbourne City fans, surely their all-time hero. 

Few knew him when he arrived, and like Besart Berisha, his goal-scoring record was nothing to write home about. 

But 48 goals in 70 matches for City cemented his place in folklore, with only a much-publicised spat with Warren Joyce ending his spell in City blue. 

Still knocking them in for Perth Glory, his brand of aggression allied to South American flair means he’s one of the A-League’s greatest, and most flamboyant, imports.

Bruno Fornaroli


Victory fans love Archie Thompson, but for me, Berisha needs to be included in this list – and not just for his record-breaking number of goals. 

If Bruno Fornaroli is a headline-writer, then Berisha is pure box office. 

From the controversy over the penalty award in the 2012 Grand Final, to him offering out Paschal Bosschaart of Sydney FC, to the wild-eyed reaction to him being substituted – you just can’t take your gaze off Besart. 

As consistent as ever with Western United, Berisha is the kind of player you love to have on your team – and hate to have as an opponent. 

Four Grand Final wins, five Grand Final goals, two Premierships, two Golden Boots and that all-time record of 125 goals.  A winner – as well as an entertainer.

Besart Berisha


No Joel Griffiths?  It was a tough choice, but if we’re talking entertainers, then Nicky Carle had few equals in his heyday. 

The Goal of the Season he scored for the Jets against Adelaide in 2006/07 is one of THE great A-League strikes, and the close control he showed in manoeuvring space for himself was typical of his talent. 

Carle went on to forge a career overseas with Bristol City and Crystal Palace before rounding his career out with Sydney FC – but it’s at the Jets where his star shone brightest for two seasons, and earned him a spot in the 2007 Asian Cup squad with Australia.  Now involved in coaching juniors in Sydney.  

Nicky Carle


“El Maestro” is about to enter into his sixth season with Perth Glory, and at 38, he is as good as ever. 

Step-overs, volleys, feints, nutmegs – Castro has the lot in his bag of tricks, and the only thing missing from his Glory CV is a Grand Final win. 

Club legend Jamie Harnwell says of the Spaniard that “in tight spaces, he comes up with solutions that no other player will really see” and it’s difficult to argue. 

With the Johnny Warren Medal pocketed in 2016, and three “Most Glorious Player” awards for his club, let’s hope we can continue to watch his mesmerising brand of football for another year or two.


No player got tongues wagging about the A-League more than the legendary Italian, whose move to Australia made global headlines. 

His stay was only two years – but he packed out stadiums right across the country. 

On the pitch, Sydney struggled, finishing 7th and 5th – but Del Piero didn’t. 

Who can forget his first goal in Sky Blue in front of 35,000 against Newcastle Jets?  Or his four-goal salvo against Wellington Phoenix? 

One of only a handful of truly world class stars to have graced the competition, his 24 goals in 48 matches are still good enough to have him in fifth spot on Sydney’s all-time goal scoring list.

Alessandro del Piero


Arriving from Crystal Palace, Ifill’s switch to New Zealand in 2009 didn’t turn too many heads – but he retired five years later as a Phoenix legend. 

33 goals in 106 A-League games only tells half the story. 

Ifill’s wing play and leadership skills were at the heart of the ‘Nix’s halcyon days in their early A-League years.

Ifill scored the crucial second goal against Newcastle in the finals of 2010 in front of almost 33,000 at the Cake Tin, as Ricki Herbert’s team went desperately close to a maiden Grand Final.  He remains in his adopted home to this day, running his football academies in the Wairarapa region.

Paul Ifill


When Sydney FC signed Alessandro del Piero, the Wanderers knew they had to respond. 

Two weeks later, Shinji Ono arrived – the sort of player who had talent to burn, but could also fit into a system. 

Ono’s two-year stay in the west produced 10 goals in 51 matches, including the cheekiest of chips in a game against Brisbane, a goal which underlined why Japanese fans labelled him the “little genius”. 

Ono played his part in steering the Wanderers to two Grand Finals in their first two years of life, but departed before he could get what would have been a more fitting reward – an Asian Champions League winners medal. 

Amazingly, Ono is still playing in J-League 2 with FC Ryukyu, at the grand old age of 41! 

Shinji Ono


Although Western United have only been in the A-League for one season, it would be churlish not to include Diamanti, who won the Johnny Warren Medal for the season just gone. 

At 37, the Italian has shown us the full array of his passing, shooting, trickery and leadership, helping to steer Western to the finals in their debut campaign. 

The good news?  He is sticking around for another season to entertain us, and give us the benefit of that big beaming smile at grounds right across the country in 2020/21.


 The twinkle-toed Serbian might not have the profile of Alessandro del Piero, but his impact has lasted far longer. 

Strangely, his first season wasn’t that impressive, but once he settled in Australia, there was no stopping him. 

About to enter his sixth season with Sydney FC, his playmaking skills continue to earn him plaudits, even at the relatively advanced age of 35. 

Always with time on the ball thanks to his brilliant close control, he works hard for his team defensively too. 

Three championships, three Premierships, an FFA Cup, a Johnny Warren Medal, a Joe Marston Medal and four PFA A-League Team of the Season selections.  Enough said. 

Milos Ninkovic