Obviously the major reason for this is that in the past Australia has not excelled at football to the same extent. Now this is changing however, and more top Australian footballers are making a name for themselves in English football – but is the same true in reverse? Just how much crossover is there between English and Australian football, and how successful have players making the switch been?
When it comes to Australian players moving to England, there has been considerable success enjoyed by a number of players. In the pre-Premier League era one of the first notable Australian football players to move to England was Craig Johnson – who played for the very successful Liverpool team of the 1980s. At that time he was seen as a real novelty, and it is only in the last decade that the serious influx of Australian players has made their presence seem more commonplace. Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill and Vincent Grella at Blackburn Rovers, Tim Cahill at Everton and Brad Jones at Middlesbrough are amongst the Australian players who have gone on to become stalwarts for the clubs over the last decade – changing attitudes to Australian football amongst English fans in the process.
When it comes to players making the switch in the opposite direction, there has still not been anything like the same number doing so, or the same level of success enjoyed by those who do. This is partly because the Australian A-League is still a less competitive league, so it tends to be a move players make towards the end of their careers. Perhaps the highest profile English star to move to the A-League in recent times was Robbie Fowler, formerly of Liverpool, but his brief stints with two clubs there did not see him match the form of his glory days, meaning at the moment people in England are still more likely to be involved in the A-League.