29/05/2024

Archie Thompson and Kevin Muscat with the 2006/07 A-League Men's Champions Trophy. (Photo: FIFA.com/Twitter)

Arguably the greatest A-League Men's side, Melbourne Victory enjoyed a record-breaking 2006/07 season. Where are they now?

Arguably the greatest A-League Men side, Melbourne Victory enjoyed a record-breaking 2006/07 season that included winning the Premier’s Plate and the A-League Grand Final with a 6-0 win over Adelaide United. 

Now, almost 15 years on, The Inner Sanctum explores where the players and coach from the talented squad are. 

#1. Michael Theo – GK

Michael Theo (Theoklitos at the time) played 71 times for the Victory, and was an integral part of the historic 2006/07 squad.

He made 20 appearances during the season, keeping 10 clean sheets as Victory cruised to a comfortable first place finish. 

The 40-year-old has not yet retired, as he is still playing as a goalkeeper for Nunawading City in Victoria’s NPL3. 

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#2. Kevin Muscat (C) – MID

One of Melbourne Victory’s most beloved players, Kevin Muscat captained the side to the double in the 2006/07 season. 

Whilst being a defender for the majority of his career, Muscat played most of his time in the midfield this season, scoring seven times in 20 appearances. 

Muscat spent his whole career in either England or Australia, playing most for Wolverhampton Wanderers in England (180 apps). 

Since retiring in 2011, Muscat has coached Melbourne Victory to success, before heading overseas to Belgum to coach Sint-Truiden in the Belgium first division.

He was sacked in 2020 and is now the coach of Ange Postecoglou’s former side, Yokohama F. Marinos. The club has just finished the J-League season in second position. 

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#3. Daniel Piorkowski – DEF

A career underlined by injuries, Daniel Piorkowski would almost be a forgotten name in Australian football.

The defender was a crucial part of Melbourne Victory’s 2006/07 season, making 13 straight starts before succumbing to a knee injury that saw him sidelined for the rest of the season. 

He left the club at the end of the 2007/08 season, and had short stints at the Newcastle Jets and Gold Coast United in the following seasons. 

Piorkowski has not played football since 2011 and it is unknown as to what the 37-year-old has been doing in recent years. 

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#4 – Mark Byrnes – DEF

Mark Byrnes played a bit of a lesser role in the club’s inaugural A-League winning season, making nine appearances, starting seven and receiving one red card. He did not feature in the final series either.

He left Victory in 2007 and played the majority of the rest of his career at NPL side APIA Leichhardt Tigers. 

Since retiring in 2013, Byrnes has turned his attention to the business side of things, having had roles as a Key Account Manager at places like Adidas and New Balance. He is currently the Key Account Manager at technology company Philips. 

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#6. Steven Pantelidis – DEF

Steve Pantelidis was the go-to centre-half for Melbourne Victory’s 2006/07 season alongside Adrian Leijer, making 22 appearances during the championship winning season.

Whilst at Victory, Pantelidis won ‘The Age’s Young Player of the Year’ as well as winning two championships with the club. 

He left Victory in 2008 and spent time at clubs in Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. Pantelidis currently plays for Victorian NPL1 side Oakleigh Cannons. 

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#7. Michael Ferrante – FWD

Michael Ferrante only managed five appearances for Victory during this season, including just one start for the club. He was released at the end of the season and picked up by Wellington Phoenix.

He spent three years there before moving towards semi-professional football with clubs such as Richmond and Pascoe Vale. He most recently played for the Essendon Royals in Victoria’s State League 2 North-West.

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#8. Fred – MID

One of Victory’s standout players for the season, Fred was an immense midfielder for the club, as well as named the best player in the competition by SBS.

Fred scored four goals in 20 appearances for the club that season, but his main contribution was the four assists he provided for Archie Thompson in the A-League Men Grand Final. 

Fred left Melbourne Victory at the end of the season to play in America, but returned to rival team Melbourne Heart (now City) in 2011. 

The Brazilian retired from professional football in 2016 and is currently an assistant coach at Philadelphia Union’s second team. 

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#9. Danny Allsopp – FWD

Allsopp was instrumental during the 2006/07 season for Melbourne Victory, scoring 12 times from 23 appearances. 

He is considered a Victory legend, having scored a total of 36 goals from 89 appearances for the club. Allsopp also spent seven years playing in England before coming to Victory. 

The striker played his final game in 2014 for Launceston City and has since pursued a career as an account manager for manufacturing companies.

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#10. Archie Thompson – FWD

Arguably Melbourne Victory’s greatest ever player, Archie Thompson enjoyed his best ever season in 2006/07, scoring 15 goals from 22 appearances including five in the Grand Final.

Thompson went on to make 226 appearances for the club, netting 90 goals. He also played 54 times for Australia, scoring 28 goals including 13 in one match against American Samoa. 

He retired from professional football in 2016 and started playing in Victoria’s NPL for Heidelberg United and Murray United.

Thompson is now a part of Football 10’s A-Leagues team as a football analyst.

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#11. Vince Lia – MID

Vince Lia was a fringe player during his time at Melbourne Victory, and during the 2006/07 season he made seven appearances, starting three times.

He left the club at the end of the season and then spent 10 seasons at Wellington Phoenix, before leaving in 2017.

Lia then had short stints at Perth Glory and Adelaide United before joining Altona Magic in February this year. 

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#12. Rodrigo Vargas – DEF

Another Melbourne Victory legend, Roddy Vargas spent six seasons in the A-League Men, all at the one club. He played every game possible in the 2006/07 season.

He made a total of 139 appearances for the Victory and was a part of two championships.

Vargas has been in the NPL system ever since 2012 and is currently a part of Nunawading City’s NPL3 squad. He was also most recently the Technical Director at Dandenong City FC.

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#13. Kristian Sarkies – MID

Kristian Sarkies was a young 19-year old that was mainly used off the bench during the championship winning season. However he did go on to have a nice impact, scoring three times from 17 appearances.

He also replaced Archie Thompson in the 90th minute of the Grand Final, where he ended up scoring the sixth goal of the match. 

Sarkies left the club at the end of the season and finished up his professional career at Melbourne Heart in 2012 following a difficult run with injury.

The 35-year-old currently plays for boyhood club Beaumaris in Victoria’s State League 1 South-East.

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#14. Adrian Caceres – MID

Adrian Caceres enjoyed a fruitful two seasons at Melbourne Victory, making 42 appearances for the club, 22 of them in the 2006/07 season.

He scored three times that season and also played 62 minutes in the Grand Final.

After leaving the club, Caceres had spells in Australia, Indonesia and Thailand before retiring in 2015. 

Since his retirement, Caceres has run into some trouble with the law, and was sentenced to 18-months imprisonment in March 2019 for dealing methamphetamine.

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#15. Adrian Leijer – DEF

Another Melbourne Victory legend, Adrian Leijer spent a total of eight seasons at the club and was a crucial part of the 2006/07 season.

Leijer won Young Player of the Year in the record-breaking season, and started 21 games for the club.

He was later made Melbourne Victory captain in 2011 until 2013. He left Victory at the end of the 2015 season.

Leijer currently plays for Dandenong City in Victoria’s NPL1.

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#16. Simon Storey – DEF

Another player who had a big role in the 06/07 season was Simon Storey. Storey was a full-back that played 22 times in that season.

He departed Victory after winning the double and spent some time in Ireland and Scotland.

Storey retired from professional football in 2011 and has since taken up the career of physiotherapy, even spending some time as head physio of Melbourne City.

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#17. Grant Brebner – MID

Scotsman Grant Brebner’s first season for Melbourne Victory was a record-breaking one. He made 21 appearances and was an anchor in the midfield. 

He made a total of 120 appearances over six seasons for the club, and retired in 2012.

Brebner then turned his attention to management, managing Moreland Zebras, Richmond FC and most recently, Melbourne Victory. 

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#18. Alessandro – DEF/MID

Alessandro was more of a rotation player in this Victory squad, making seven starts from 17 appearances in a left-back/wide midfield role. 

The 2006/07 season was his only one at the club, as talks about a new contract broke down at the end of the season and Alessandro returned to Brazil.

Since retiring in 2012, Alessandro’s occupation or whereabouts is unkown.

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#19. Claudinho – FWD

Claudinho is another one of the three Brazilian imports signed for the 2006/07 season, however he had the least impact of all. 

He made just one start from five appearances, and departed at the end of the season.

Claudinho then had some spells in Brazil and Argentina, but there is very little known about him since his last club (Racing Club) in Argentina in 2010.

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#20. Eugene Galekovic – GK

Eugene Galekovic was the back-up to Michael Theo for the 2006/07 campaign and made just the four appearances for the season. 

He left Victory in 2007 and spent a decade at Adelaide United before finishing his career at Melbourne City. He also made eight appearances for the Socceroos.

Galekovic is currently the Head Goalkeeper Coach for Adelaide United. 

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#21. James Robinson – FWD

Robinson was more of a rotation player for this Victory squad, only making one start from seven appearances. However, he did get 30 minutes under his belt in the Grand Final. 

The Englishman signed from Richmond SC spent just one season at the club, before having spells at Perth Glory and North Queensland Fury.

He stayed in Australia playing in the NPL before retiring in 2014, and now currently coaches Ballarat City in Victoria’s NPL3. 

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#22. Leigh Broxham – MID

Melbourne Victory’s all time appearance leader, former captain and club legend, Leigh Broxham was just 19-years-old when the 2006/07 season started. 

He only made four appearances during the season, however instantly gained a huge amount of experience, spending half an hour on the pitch during the Grand Final.

Broxham currently stills plays for the club, and has made 340 A-Leagues appearances. 

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#23. Antun Kovacic – MID

Possibly the player that had the least impact on this squad, Antun Kovacic made just two appearances in the 2006/07 A-League Men deason. 

That was also all he would play for the club, as he left to sign with Oakleigh Cannons. He would continue playing competitively until 2014 where he retired at Melbourne Knights. 

Very little is known about Kovacic since his retirement.

Coach – Ernie Merrick

A legend of Australian football, Scottish-born Ernie Merrick coached Melbourne Victory for six years between 2005-2011, winning five trophies and two Coach of the Year awards. 

After being sacked in 2011, Merrick has coached the Hong Kong National Team, Wellington Phoenix and most recently, Newcastle Jets.

He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2014 for his services to football in Australia.  

Merrick has recently started up his own business called ‘Ernie Merrick Consultancy’ where he works as a Technical Consultant.

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