Is Castro the A-League’s best ever?


It’s the long-standing debate among all Hyundai A-League fans; who is the most talented player to grace the field during our 12-year-old competition’s history?

From state to state across the country, fans often refer to different measures of success, including Hyundai A-League Championships, goals scored, assists created, all-round ability across several skills, their FIFA17 rating and of course, a subjective view of their general on-field brilliance.

The issue, however and part of the reason why football is such an incredible game, is that none of these measures actually determine a player’s overall ability.

If we were to measure with Championships, Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo would be our standout best player ever. If we use goals scored, the honour falls squarely to Melbourne Victory’s Besart Berisha, but this pushes many other non-goalscoring players that had less time in the league out of contention. Assists haven’t been measured in depth historically in the A-League, while all-round ability would rule out players like Berisha and Melbourne City’s Bruno Fornaroli.

FIFA 17 is also imprecise, given that it is a current measure, the A-League was not included during the early part of the popular video game’s history and A-League player ratings have grown all-around over the years gone by.

So in the spirit of the game, for us at least, it comes down to a subjective opinion on pure football ability and raw talent.

It is a rare sort of player that earns this shimmer in the A-League; the sort that moves fans onto the edge of their seats every time they touch the ball, totally unpredictable in their movement, yet predictable in achieving the same result; namely brilliance. These players don’t disappear when their team looks down and out, they lead on the field, can carry their colleagues on their back and almost magically turn a seemingly-inevitable defeat into a win.

Whether you like it or not, it is the measure of talent in this country. You will never hear Ned Zelic shriek ‘individual all-roundedness’. The big man himself only specifically has an eye for ‘individual brilliance’.

For me, there are only five players that, across different seasons, have possessed this magical touch in A-League history; Dwight Yorke, Alessandro Del Piero, Thomas Broich, Besart Berisha and Diego Castro.

Of those five, only Thomas Broich (2011-12 and 2013-14) and Diego Castro (2015-16) have been recognised by their peers as the Johnny Warren Medallist and best player in the Hyundai A-League.

Based on the Johnny Warren Medal alone, you would have to consider Broich as the walk-in for the award. The German was the central figure in Brisbane Roar’s three Hyundai A-League Championships in four years and was recognised as the league’s best player when aged 31 and again at 33.

But this is where the Castro argument comes in. Our Spanish maestro won his first Johnny Warren Medal at the age of 34. During the years that the undoubtedly talented Broich was lighting up the Hyundai A-League, Castro was testing himself week-in, week-out with Getafe in Spain’s top division, La Liga. Through his early 30s, Broich was facing some undeniably talented defenders such as Matthew Spiranovic and Patrick Zwaanswijk, but Castro was coming up against the likes of Sergio Ramos, Diego Godin and Gerard Pique; true world-class performers.

When Castro finished in Spain, he had just scored a brilliant goal at the Santiago Bernabeu against the reigning UEFA Champions League Champions, Real Madrid. He was 33 at the time, the same age at which Broich was winning his third Championship with Brisbane Roar.

Had Castro spent an extra two years in purple at the same age which saw Broich at his brilliant best, would the Spaniard have shone brighter than the mercurial German? 

Without a doubt, a player like Thomas Broich deserves immense respect across the country for his service. And ultimately, I believe most Hyundai A-League fans will fairly choose the Roar man based on his Championship-winning impact, the number of Johnny Warren Medals he took out and his lasting legacy in the history of the league. As Ange Postecoglou once said, figures like Thomas Broich deserve to be household names in this country.

However, on pure ability and raw footballing talent alone, through my purple-tinted glasses, I have to choose Diego Castro. His footwork, his trickery, his impact upon every Glory game is immeasurable and simply a sight to behold. Working for the club, I see the twinkle in every A-League fan’s eye when they hear the name Diego Castro; from supporters young and old, from his teammates and opponents, from his friends and his foes.

At the end of the day, both are wonderful players and we are privileged to have had them grace our shores here in Australia.

But what do you think? Interact with us on our social media accounts and let us know who your pick would be!