A brief history of the A-League All Stars as concept returns in 2024 with a twist

WATCH: Garang Kuol put on a show when the A-League All Stars faced Barcelona in 2022. It earned him a move to Newcastle United, who will now face the All Stars this year.

With an historic A-League All Stars doubleheader set to take place in May, here is a look back at the history of the concept.

The All Stars have faced Manchester United, Juventus and Barcelona. Now, Newcastle United and Arsenal will join that list with a twist.

For the first time ever, there will be an A-League All Stars Women fixture as the competition’s best go head-to-head with Women’s Super League (WSL) giants Arsenal as part of a double-header in Melbourne.

FULL DETAILS: A-League All Stars Men & Women to take on English giants in May

The A-League All Stars Men will return for a fourth instalment, clashing with Premier League side Newcastle United on that same night.

aleagues.com.au takes a look back at the three previous A-Leagues All Stars games.

July 20, 2013: A-League All Stars 1-5 Manchester United at Accor Stadium (83,127)

The inaugural A-Leagues All Stars showdown took place more than a decade ago.

On that night in Sydney, Manchester United arrived as the defending champions to face the Isuzu UTE A-League’s best – led by legendary Australian Ange Postecoglou, who was coaching Melbourne Victory at the time and pipped Tony Popovic by a margin of fewer than 100 votes in a poll of some 15,000 fans.

It was not the first time Postecoglou, now in charge of Tottenham in the Premier League, had come up against United. He also oversaw South Melbourne’s 2000 Club World Cup fixture against the global powerhouse – a 2-0 loss.

There are still three survivors from that All Stars team running around in the A-Leagues this season – Sydney FC great Rhyan Grant, Western United captain Josh Risdon and Melbourne Victory’s Connor Chapman.

The trio, along with a squad headlined by the likes of Besart Berisha, former Socceroo Brett Emerton and Thomas Broich went toe-to-toe with David Moyes’ Red Devils, boasting Robin van Persie, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Anderson and Ryan Giggs following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in front of more than 83,000 fans.

2013 A-League All Stars squad:

Ante Covic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Michael Theo (Brisbane Roar), Michael Beauchamp (Western Sydney Wanderers), Pedj Bojic (Central Coast Mariners), Nigel Boogaard (Adelaide United), Connor Chapman (Newcastle Jets), Josh Risdon (Perth Glory), Josh Rose (Central Coast Mariners), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Western Sydney Wanderers), Thomas Broich (Brisbane Roar), Marcelo Carrusca (Adelade United), Billy Celeski (Melbourne Victory), Brett Emerton (Sydney FC), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners), Liam Miller (Brisbane Roar), Besart Berisha (Brisbane Roar), Mark Bridge (Western Sydney Wanderers), Paul Ifill (Wellington Phoenix), David Williams (Melbourne Heart)

August 10, 2014: A-League All Stars 2-3 Juventus at Accor Stadium (55,364)

The following year, Italian juggernaut and Serie A champions Juventus came to town to face the A-League Men’s best.

Bianconeri legend Alessandro Del Piero was the star of the show following his switch to Sydney FC two years earlier. Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Carlos Tevez and Patrice Evra were the headline acts.

Former Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers boss Josep Gombau was coach of the All Stars that night.

“We made some noise,” Gombau, now in charge of Aston Villa’s Under-21 side, recalled to KEEPUP two years ago, ahead of the resurrection of the All Stars concept in 2022.

The All Stars almost beat a Juventus team boasting Buffon, Pogba, Pirlo, Tevez, Evra, Bonucci and Claudio Marchisio – Gombau’s squad led 2-1 entering the 87th minute.

“We put this kind of football we want to play,” said Gombau. “Our aim was to make an impact, to show around the world in Australia the kind of football we play is a nice football. We did it.

“I think it was nice proof that Australian football was in a good way. We did well and the people enjoyed it.

“Our objective was done. We make noise. It’s not the result but the way we play. It’s a great experience for the players, a great chance for the fans to see European football in Australia.”

2014 A-League All Stars squad:

Mark Birighitti (Newcastle Jets), Eugene Galekovski (Adelaide United), Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix), Jade North (Brisbane Roar), Joshua Rose (Central Coast Mariners), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners), Matt Smith (Brisbane Roar), Michael Thwaite (Perth Glory), Ali Abbas (Sydney FC), Thomas Broich (Brisbane Roar), Marcelo Carrusca (Adelaide United), Gui Finkler (Melbourne Victory), Youssouf Hersi (Perth Glory), Nick Montgomery (Central Coast Mariners), Albert Riera (Wellington Phoenix), Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory), Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC), Bernie Ibini (Sydney FC), Tomi Juric (Western Sydney Wanderers), David Williams (Melbourne City)

May 25, 2022: A-League All Stars 2-3 Barcelona at Accor Stadium (70,174)

After eight years, the All Stars concept was reprised in 2022.

History was made as LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona visited Australia for the first time to face the A-League All Stars.

Xavi’s Barca were pushed to the limit by an All Stars team led by Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke before he was appointed by Macarthur FC ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Young Aussie guns Garang Kuol – now on the books of Newcastle United – put on a show, earning praise from Barcelona’s head coach as the All Stars took a 2-1 lead through 53 minutes before the LaLiga giants hit back during the remaining 28 minutes.

“He did really well,” Xavi told Network 10 post-match of the teenage Kuol.

“He created many chances and almost scored.

“(Seventeen)?… Maybe he’s a big liar!

“At (17), that’s unbelievable. All the best for him, and all the players.”

2022 A-League All Stars squad:

Filip Kurto (Macarthur FC), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Scott Neville (Brisbane Roar), Jason Davidson (Melbourne Victory), Adrian Mariappa (Macarthur FC), Kye Rowles (Central Coast Mariners), Adama Traore (Western Sydney Wanderers), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Alexandar Popovic (Adelaide United), Jack Rodwell (Western Sydney Wanderers), Olivier Boumal (Newcastle Jets), Isaias (Adelaide United), Milos Ninkovic (Sydney FC), Anthony Caceres (Sydney FC), Callum Timmins (Perth Glory), Jay O’Shea (Brisbane Roar), Daniel Penha (Newcastle JetS), Reno Piscopo (Wellington Phoenix), Jason Cummings (Central Coast Mariners), Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners), Nestory Irankunda (Adelaide United)