The top five A-League imports

by Ben Somerford on Jul 11, 2012

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Marcos Flores is back in the A-League, but this time he'll be wearing blue not red; everyone but Adelaide fans is excited about that. To mark his return, GGArmy has taken a look at the top five A-League imports over the years.

Of course, when compiling these divisive lists there needs to be some clear criteria, with longevity and quality the key two points, while any good import should help win trophies and attract crowds, so that comes into consideration too.

On the basis of the aforementioned criteria, 2010-11 Johnny Warren medallist Flores along with 2005-06 Joe Marston medallist Dwight Yorke miss out, having only spent approximately one season in the A-League.

Curiously, no one on our list joined an A-League club as a marquee, so that may something about recruitment in this country. Anyway, here's our top five;

5. Patrick Zwaanswijk (Central Coast Mariners)
Appearances: 62 - Goals: 10 - Honours: 2011-12 A-League Premiership, 2011-12 A-League Team of the Season

The ex-NAC Breda central defender arrived on Australian shores at the tender age of 35, so expectations weren't overly high for him, but he's made a hugely positive impact at the Mariners. Zwaanswijk has become the chief of the Gosford side who've battled Brisbane for the honours in the past two seasons. The Dutchman's defensive leadership and aerial strength, combined with his ability to pop up with the odd goal make him a wonderful backman, arguably the competition's best ever.

4. Sergio Van Dijk (Brisbane Roar/Adelaide United)
Appearances: 102 - Goals: 50 - Honours: 2008-09 A-League Golden Boot equal runner-up, 2009-10 A-League Golden Boot runner-up, 2010-11 A-League Golden Boot, 2010-11 A-League Team of the Season

The Dutchman sits third on the all-time A-League goalscoring list with 50 strikes to his name, which says a lot about his consistency after arriving down under in 2008. Van Dijk isn't blessed with sublime skills, but his physical prowess, aerial ability and powerful left boot make him ideally suited to the A-League. He was also twice the Golden Boot runner-up before finally winning the honour in 2010-11 at Adelaide.

3. Paul Ifill (Wellington Phoenix)
Appearances: 72 - Goals: 28 - Honours: 2009-10 Wellington Players', Members' & Media Player of the Year, 2011-12 A-League Team of the Season
Ever since Ifill's arrival at Wellington in 2009, the club has made the finals every season. The Barbados international came third in voting for the Johnny Warren Medal in his first campaign in the competition and has created headaches for A-League defences ever since with his direct approach, quick turns and wicked shooting ability. Ifill probably hasn't picked up the accolades he's deserved, with injury hampering him at times, but he's always a pleasure to watch.

2. Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory)
Appearances: 120 - Goals: 35 - Honours: 2008-09 A-League Premiership & Championship, 2009-10 Johnny Warren Medal, 2009-10 A-League Foreign Player of the Year, 2009-10 Melbourne Victory Players' Player of the Year, 2011-12 A-League Team of the Season, 2011-12 A-League Goal of the Season

'El Zorro' has finally finished up at Victory after five stunning seasons during which it was no coincidence they made a big claim on the title as the A-League's most successful club. The bulky Costa Rican's stunning long-range strikes were a huge feature of his time in Australia, scoring some of the best goals the competition has ever seen along the way. During 2008-09 and 2009-10 he dominated the league, picking up personal awards as well as helping Victory clinch the double in 2009. A player who'll be sorely missed, particularly for those who love watching the highlight reels.

1. Thomas Broich (Brisbane Roar)
Appearances: 50 - Goals: 8 - Honours: 2010-11 A-League Premiership & Championship, 2010-11 Gary Wilkins Medal, 2010-11 A-League Top Assistant, 2011-12 A-League Championship, 2011-12 Johnny Warren Medal, 2011-12 A-League Foreign Player of the Year, 2010-11 & 2011-12 A-League Team of the Season

The German genius has taken the level of imports to another level, with his classy control of the Brisbane midfield guiding them to back-to-back A-League Championships (the first time this has ever been done). The man known as Mozart has composed Roar's attacking play for the past two seasons with sensational skill and guile, as the club set an Australian sporting record of 36 games unbeaten, while revising the way the game is played in the A-League. His importance was shown in his injury-enforced absence last term, when they suddenly begun losing games. A class act both on and off the field too.

*Honourable mentions
Marcos Flores (Adelaide United), Dwight Yorke (Sydney FC), Terry McFlynn (Sydney FC), Fred (Melbourne Victory/Wellington Phoenix/Melbourne Heart), Besart Berisha (Brisbane Roar), Cassio (Adelaide United), Grant Brebner (Melbourne Victory), Adama Traore (Gold Coast United)