13/04/2024

Alessandro Del Piero celebrates a goal. (Image: SCFU)

As the 30th edition of the Sydney Derby approaches, The Inner Sanctum takes a look back at the inaugural Sydney FC side that walked away with the win in 2012.

As the 30th edition of the Sydney Derby approaches, The Inner Sanctum takes a look back at the inaugural Sydney FC side that walked away with the win in 2012.

The Sydney Derby divides the city in two as the now famous fixture has etched its name in A-League folklore as one of the game’s marquee events.

Opposing supporters come out in numbers for the chance to hold onto the bragging rights of the city.

The Sydney Derby has produced some of the greatest games in Australian football history, and has attracted some of the biggest stars to grace the country in the process.

Let’s take a look back and see where the current squad is now.

Coach: Ian Crook

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Although he led Sydney to a victory in the first derby, Ian Crook had a very forgettable reign as coach of the Sky Blues. Crook only lasted six games before he was let go – losing four and winning two.

Crook’s successful career as a player never translated to his post-football life as a manger. He found later success in his most recent role as a Technical Director at the Western Sydney Wanderers for both the senior and youth team, which he departed from in 2019.

Goalkeeper: Ivan Necevski

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Ivan Necevski is arguably the best back-up keeper in A-League Men history. In his eight year stint at Sydney he only made 48 appearances, however he was a reliable under-study who rarely let his side down.

He managed to keep a clean sheet in the original derby. Now 42, Necevski still plays for APIA Leichhardt FC in the NPL NSW competition.

Defence: Fabio

Fabio poses after signing for Sydney. (Image: Sydney FC)

After signing from Melbourne Victory, Fabio spent one season at Sydney before being released at the end of the 2013 campaign.

The Brazilian recovered his career in the USA with MLS side Philadelphia Union, where he played 122 times from 2013-2019. He has not played professionally since 2019.

Defence: Seb Ryall

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Sydney FC legend and fan favourite Seb Ryall made a name for himself in this heated fixture throughout the years.

Ryall was usually seen front and centre as the tempers regularly boiled over. The former Victory man made the move to the Sky Blues in 2009 and never looked back.

He made 164 appearances for the club and was a big part of both the 2009-10 and 2016-17 championship winning sides.

The versatile defender most recently played for NSW NPL Men’s side Sydney Olympic in 2021.

Defence: Trent McClenahan

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Trent McClenahan started his career at West Ham before bouncing around the UK for a number of years.

He signed an eight week deal with Perth in 2011 to return back to Australia, before going to the Mariners the following year and then Sydney before the 2012-13 season.

After just 12 caps for the Sky Blues, McClenhan departed for Thailand before wrapping up his career with NPL side Rockdale City Suns.

He has since joined the A-Leagues as an Operations Manager of Football and Youth.

Midfield: Brett Emerton

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Brett Emerton was a mainstay during Blackburn’s Premier League run in the mid 2000s, with 247 appearances for the Rovers.

Emerton made his way back home with Sydney in 2011, where he made 57 appearances for the Sky Blues. He notably captained the A-League All-Stars in a friendly match against Manchester United.

Although his stay at Sydney was cut short due to ongoing back issues, Emerton was a star of the league and gave the derby a much needed spark of marquee talent in its early days.

These days, Emerton is the head of SAP programs for his local team, Football NSW League Two outfit Macarthur Rams.

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Midfield: Ali Abbas

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One of the fan-favourites in Sky Blue, Ali Abbas became a cult hero in his time at Sydney, etching himself in the history books during the early hit-outs of the Sydney Derby.

With 68 caps under his name for Sydney, Abbas was a versatile threat going forward and was plugged into many positions during his time in the Harbour City.

Abbas had a short stint with the Pohang Steelers after leaving Sydney, before returning to the A-League with Wellington and Newcastle, where he last played.

Midfield: Rhyan Grant

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Undoubtedly one of Sydney’s best and longest serving members, Rhyan Grant is the only member from both sides still currently with their team.

A club legend in his own right, Grant holds the record for most A-League appearances in a Sky Blue jersey (225), and sits just five games behind Alex Brosque for most appearances in all competitions for Sydney.

Playing anywhere from midfield to fullback, Grant’s versatility and longevity has given him the chance to still regularly play for the Sky Blues, becoming a crucial player for club and country.

Grant could set himself some well-earned breathing room on the all-time Sydney derby appearances if he continues his 14-year stint with the Sky Blues.

Midfield: Paul Reid

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After a storied career in England, Paul Reid returned to Australia with Adelaide United before a short stint with the then Melbourne Heart.

Reid found his way to a Sky Blue jersey in 2012, where he made 12 appearances for the season before leaving for NSW NPL Men’s outfit Rockdale City Suns.

He struggled to make his mark on Sydney in his one-season stay, and found a lot more success with Rockdale as he began to transition to a coaching role.

Paul Reid was recently a part of Steve Corica’s backroom staff in 2021.

Forward: Alessandro Del Piero

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Alessandro Del Piero was, and still is, the biggest name to ever grace the A-League Men.

After one of the greatest careers in Italy with Juventus, Del Piero decided to try his hand down under.

The second highest all-time Italian goal scorer made an immediate impact on Sydney and the entire league as the masses flocked to see the living legend ply his trade.

Del Piero had the lone goal in the inaugural derby after converting his own missed penalty.

However in his two seasons in Sydney, the club failed to progress past the first round of the finals series. He eventually left for a ten-game stint with the Delhi Dynamos.

Del Piero’s impact on the league is still seen today, and he is often seen campaigning for his former side on social media. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he opened an Italian restaurant, and has started up two developmental football programs in his current residence.

Forward: Mitchell Mallia

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Mitchell Mallia showed plenty of promise in the first edition of the Sydney Derby, as Crook showed plenty of faith in his youngster by giving him a surprising start in this fixture.

He looked like a game changer, and was unlucky to not have etched his name on the scoresheet on the day.

Mallia made a few more appearances for the Sky Blues before departing for NSW NPL side Blacktown City FC.

His NPL stint impressed Perth Glory enough to give him a second chance in the A-League Men, as he was handed a short-term deal in 2017.

He returned to the NPL with Blacktown City before leaving for Marconi in 2019.

Mallia re-signed for Blacktown at the start of this season and is set to play a massive part in its title-campaign.

Forward: Krunoslav Lovrek

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Krunoslav Lovrek was a storied journeyman throughout Europe, making a name for himself for Croatian outfit NK Zagreb, where he made 124 appearances.

Lovrek joined Sydney in 2012 after a short stint in Korea, however after playing only five games he was released at the end of the season.

He last played for Croatian side Technicar Cvetkovec in 2016.

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