The Trans-Tasman region has produced a plethora of very good footballers. Athletes from New Zealand and Australia have excelled in the sport — both domestically and abroad.
While there were some notable exclusions (Ivan Vicelich, Zeljko Kalac, Mark Bosnich, Chris Wood, Mile Jedinak, Mathew Ryan, Vaughan Coveny, Robbie Kruse, Joe Marston, Simon Elliott, Paul Wade, Mathew Leckie), this piece will attempt to rank the thirty-best players hailing from both countries:
30. Ray Baartz — Australia
It truly is a case of “what if” for Baartz. Hailing from Newcastle, Baartz was a fixture on Australia’s National Team in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. During this time, Baartz bagged 18 goals in only 48 appearances. For domestic side Sydney Hakoah (now called Hakoah Sydney City East FC), Baartz had 211 goals in 236 appearances.
Unfortunately for Baartz, his career ended at 27 years of age due to a physical altercation with Uruguayan footballer Luis Garisto. During a Pre-World Cup friendly, Garisto hit Baartz in the throat — causing severe swelling to the carotid artery. The horrific incident left Baartz partially paralyzed. As a result, he never played again. Baartz was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.
29. Steve Sumner — New Zealand
Sumner will forever go down as one of the most beloved New Zealand footballers of all time. Though English by heritage, he represented the Kiwis internationally after moving to Christchurch United at 18 years old. During his spell at Christchurch, Sumner’s team won five league titles and six Chatham Cups. Sumner later played his club football in Australia.
A quick and agile player, the attacking midfield was adept at tucking behind the target striker — exploiting pockets of space left by opposing defenses. He scored 22 goals in 58 matches for New Zealand. He also captained the 1982 World Cup team — which marked the first appearance for the country in the tournament.
28. Frank Farina — Australia
Farina’s involvement within the national team program has been considerable. The striker accrued 67 caps for Australia — netting 14 goals in the process. As a player, he starred for domestic sides Canberra City, Sydney City, Marconi Stallions, and Brisbane Strikers. Farina also had a brilliant career abroad — as he featured in Belgium, Italy, England, and France. A three-year stint at Club Brugge saw Farina score 43 goals in only 70 appearances. He also was the first Australian to ever feature in Serie A.
He’s since transitioned to the post of manager. He managed the national team for seven years, was a manager in the A-League for roughly 10 years, and most recently has been involved with the Fijian National Team set-up.