Robbie Slater 1995-1996
A National Champion while still in his teens, Slater first caught the eye of Nottingham Forest in the early 80’s before eventually securing a move to Anderlecht in 1989.
The Belgian side were one of the bigger teams in Europe at the time and the industrious midfielder struggled to make an impression on the first team and so moved on to French club Lens in 1990. Lens were languishing in the second tier of French football when Slater arrived and he helped inspire the club to promotion to during his spell with the club.
After a successful 4 year spell in France, Slater joined Jack Walker’s revolution at Blackburn Rovers at the start of the 1994-95 season. Rovers went on to win a league title with the Lancashire club, becoming the first Australian to win the Premier League. Slater moved to West Ham in the August following the title win in a move that saw Matty Holmes move in the opposite direction.
Slater played 29 times for the Hammers staying only one season before moving to Southampton where he was signed by Graeme Souness. The Australian made significant contributions to the Saints’ fight for survival in the late nineties although his appearances were severely restricted once Souness was replaced by Dave Jones in the summer of 1997.
Slater moved on to Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1998 but his career in England was winding down and he returned to Australia with Northern Spirit where he would stay until he retired in 2001.
Slater represented Australia with distinction earning 44 caps and is a member of the Australian Hall of Fame and twice won the Oceania player of the Year in 1991 and 1993.
Slater moved into the media following the end of his playing career providing commentary and analysis of A-League games for Australian Pay TV channel Fox Sports.
A wholehearted well-travelled footballer who has had an interesting and varied career.
Lucas Neill 2007-2009
A combative and versatile defender who excelled in his time for Millwall, Blackburn and West Ham, Neill joined West Ham from Blackburn in January 2007. The Australian had become something of a hate figure for Blackburn fans when he made clear his intention to leave the club after 5 years service. Neill has been a consistent performer for the Lancashire club and was once a fan favourite. Neill reportedly rejected the chance to join Liverpool and Chelsea to join West Ham which led to accusations of him only being motivated by money, something Neill refuted.
The defender played a key part in West Ham’s miraculous survival in the 2006-2007 season and demonstrated great leadership in pulling together a side that looked fragmented to say the least into a team capable of winning 7 of the last 9 games to survive.
Neill was made club captain in 2007 but rejected a new one-year deal in 2009 and left for Everton on a free transfer at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Neill stayed at Goodison for 18 months before moving on to Galatasaray in 2010 to link up with fellow Australian Harry Kewell.
Neil stayed 18 months in Turkey before signing for Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, he then moved on to Al Wasl before returning to Australia with Sydney FC in 2013.
Neill enjoyed a brief spell in Japan before signing for Watford initially and then Doncaster Rovers but was released at the end of the 20013-14 season effectively ending his playing career. Neill represented Australia 96 times and is undoubtedly one of the finest Australian players of his time.
It has been reported that Lucas is going through some personal problems at the moment and has stepped away from the game, here’s hoping he gets himself back on track soon.
Hayden Foxe 2000-2002
Signed by Harry Redknapp from Japanese club Sanfreece Hiroshima, Foxe arrived at West Ham with an established reputation as a talented defender. The big centre-half had represented his country at both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games. Foxe arrived short of match fitness and was loaned to Belgian side Mechelen to gain some much-needed fitness.
Foxe returned in March but struggled to establish himself with West Ham eventually being reunited with Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth for £400,000 in May 2002. Foxe quickly established himself as the mainstay of the side helping the south coast side to promotion to the Premier League in 2003. Foxe finally looked to be living up to his reputation playing regularly in the Premier League until he fractured a bone in his foot at Christmas and this signalled the end of his time at Portsmouth. It took Foxe a season and a half to recover from the injury by which time Redknapp had left the south coast side and the big Australian found himself out of favour and was released in 2005.
Foxe tried to re-ignite his career with Leeds United but a combination of boardroom instability and injuries hampered his time in Yorkshire and he returned to Australia with Perth Glory in 2007. Injuries again blighted his time with the club and he was released in 2009.
Foxe made a cameo appearance with Sydney FC and his calming re-assuring presence was a crucial factor in the club’s success, winning the A-League in 2010.
Foxe retired from football at the end of the 2010-2011 season.
Hayden has now gone into coaching working as both Youth Coach and Assistant coach at Melbourne Heart, before becoming assistant manager to Tony Popovic at Western Sydney Wanderers.