Updated: Jun 24, 2019
When you look at the majority of players in the A-League or playing for the Socceroos, they come from the big capital cities. But there is no shortage of talent in the country: regional players often have the same raw talent but lack the opportunity of their city cousins. Here’s five players from regional areas who took their opportunity when it came.
The Ingham brothers, Jai and Dane, were born in Lismore, NSW in the 90s. They played for local teams Lennox Head and Byron Bay Rams before forging a professional career which has already seen them both play for the New Zealand All Whites. Jai currently plays for Melbourne Victory while Dane – who is the second-youngest player in history to play in the FIFA Confederations Cup – is at Brisbane Roar.
1: Jamie Maclaren
While greater Melbourne has swelled to the point where Sunbury has been drawn into its orbit, when Jamie McLaren lived there in the early 90s it was a just sleepy little town.
Starting off with his local Sunbury United, as Jamie grew older he was able to play for bigger and bigger teams before moving out of home to chase his football dream and, eventually, sign with Blackburn Rovers.
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From there, Maclaren has turned into one of Australia’s most lethal strikers, winning the A-League Golden Boot and A-League Young Football of the Year (twice). He now plays for Hibs in Scotland and travelled with the Socceroos to the 2018 World Cup.
2: James Meredith
Born in the border town of Albury, James’ father was an elite squash player so sport ran in the family. He began playing football at an early age and was spotted by a Derby County scout while he was playing a match in Melbourne at age 16.
Moving to the UK, James has played at Wembley, won the FA Trophy, been selected in the League 1 team of the Year and put on the green and gold of the Socceroos.
3: Nathan Burns
From the bush, to Greece, all the way down to New Zealand and then over to Asia: Nathan Burns has been everywhere. And it all started in the tony town of Blayney, NSW.
Nathan started with his local Blayney Junior Soccer Club all the way up to U9s when he was selected for the Orange and district rep teams where he was able to be spotted by scouts in Sydney. He moved to the city at 14-years-old to take up the opportunity there.
He has since completed the perfect story of country kid making it in the big smoke: he’s won the Johnny Warren Medal, he’s played and won trophies overseas and best of all – he won the Asian Cup with the Socceroos in 2015.
4: Josh Brillante
From Bundaberg in South East Queensland, Josh Brilliante is now one of their most famous footballing sons. Playing for both Bundaberg Waves and Bundaberg Spirit, Josh’s career really took off when he moved to Brisbane to play for the Queensland Academy of Sport.
Since the age of 17 he has been a familiar face in the A-League – save for one season when he played in Italy’s Serie A and Serie B – and is part of the Sydney FC team which has dominated the league for the past two seasons.
He’s won FFA U20 Player of the Year, two A-League Premierships, one A-League Championship, one FFA Cup and multiple Socceroos caps.
5: Archie Thompson
Archie Thompson began his career in Bathurst, playing local football while working as a dish-pig in a local restaurant. Desperate to make his future in football, Thompson packed-up his things and secured a contract in the old National Soccer League where he forged a reputation as an exciting and explosive striker.
He famously broke the record for most goals in a World Cup match when he put 13 goals past American Samoa in a World Cup Qualification match before earning himself an overseas contracts in Belgium where he became his club’s highest goal scorer.
He returned to Australia to become a Melbourne Victory and A-League legend, eventually retiring with more than 90 A-League goals and over 50 Socceroos caps as well as an A-League Golden Boot, a Joe Marston Medal and four Team of the Year selections.
He went back to the bush to play his final season with Murray United FC: a club in Albury-Wodonga, the home of his parents.
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Feature image credit: Cameron McIntosh