Sydney’s western suburbs have produced some of Australia’s finest footballers – and the new crop at Wanderers FC have plenty to live up to.
Football’s grassroots popularity at a national level has seen each state and region bring up players to be proud of but it’s difficult to pinpoint one area that has managed to realise such a wealth of talent as western Sydney.
We cast around the office in an attempt to find the best player to come out of the region but only succeeded in creating a long list to fuel arguments for the rest of the year: Mark Bosnich, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Harry Kewell, Paul Okon, Tony Popovic, Mark Schwarzer, Robbie Slater, Christian Vieri (just about...), Ned Zelic.
Which of these is No.1? Take your pick and give us your argument why – it’s an enviable list.
What is it about Sydney’s western suburbs that lend themselves to uncovering and developing such players?
Part of it undoubtedly comes down to the region’s multicultural population; football being the great communicator allows all these different styles and skills to come together under a common language.
Whatever the background of these communities, football is the one thing everyone can understand and participate in from the very beginning, and express themselves and their culture.
And with an estimated 120,000 registered players in the region - and so many coaches sharing ideas, knowledge and techniques - it’s no surprise that all that passion and competition breeds some of our finest talent.
In this respect, the creation of Western Sydney Wanderers FC shouldn’t really be thought of as a risk for FFA; it is just door that was waiting to be opened.
Tony Popovic’s commitment to build his squad on a foundation of locally raised talent is commendable. Wanderers FC’s first team sheet might not quite match the great names of the past but surely it’s only a matter of time until we see the next generation of green and gold wearing red and black.
Our western Sydney best XI (unofficial and in no order)
Best of the rest...
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not reflect those of FFA.