Born: 22nd February 1979, Sydney, Australia
Age in 2005: 26
Premier League Clubs: Blackburn Rovers (2003-2011)
Position: Right-back / Right-wing
Coming from somewhere called ‘Australia’, Brett Emerton turned down offers from multiple Premier League clubs before choosing Graeme Souness’ Blackburn in 2003. Having just seen Emerton pull a coin from behind Lucas Neill’s ear (presumably), the Rovers boss said: "Emerton is a top player. If he can keep up that level of trickery I will be quite happy."
The Aussie winger held his place in the first XI for much of the 2003/04 season and his pace and work ethic helped guide Blackburn into a perilous relegation battle. They survived, but the scare was enough to convince the club’s hierarchy that Graeme Souness was no longer the man for the job. As all football fans are well aware, the Scot would go on to occupy the ‘haircut complaint’ section of Sky Sports’ punditry team.
(Above: When two classics combine)
In came Mark Hughes, the Premier League manager who most resembles a secondary school dinner lady. He guided Blackburn to the FA Cup semi-finals, which they were unfortunate to lose to Arsenal and Bremerton was a constant in the Blackburn lineup that comfortably gained mid-table status at the end of 2004/05.
At the climax of the campaign, Hughes said of his reliable winger: "He gives me a lot of options. He can carry the ball from one end of the pitch to the other."
This apparent special dispensation, that allowed Brett to hold the ball when opponents were limited to using their feet, meant that he started to attract interest from other bigger Premier League clubs.
(Above: One of the Premier League's most dangerous wingers takes on Gareth Bale)
Brett 'the Hitman' Emerton turned them down, though, and made a whopping 47 appearances for Blackburn in the following 2006/07 season as they maintained their mid-table status.
His international career was nothing short of stellar. Former member of the Australian Football Federation (which to this day operates out of Harry Kewell’s wicked treehouse) Bonita Mersiades, claimed that what Emerton lacked in technical ability, "compared with players such as Ned Zelic or Paul Okon" (me neither) "he made up for with a big heart and humility."
(Above: Emerton's massive heart can't stop him kicking this ball against the mighty Thailand)
Even an oversized vital organ couldn’t hinder his performances for the Socceroos though, as ‘Bretter-Than-Mark-Viduka' Emerton would play brilliantly in both legs of a deciding World Cup 2006 qualifier against Uruguay. Helping the Australian national team qualify for its first World Cup since 1974 is surely one of Emerton’s proudest moments.
Perhaps as a result of carrying round that ridiculously big heart of his, the Australian winger was forced into retirement in 2014 because of persistent back problems. But his mammoth 247 appearances for Blackburn Rovers and 95 international appearances mean Emerton goes down as one of the most famous Australians to grace the Premier League, and he’s granted the additional honour of joining this classic list.
(Above: Brett inappropriately attired for a day at the beach with John Aloisi)
Where is he now?
According to some news reports, Australia has some TV channels. One of them, Optus, has signed Emerton to its World Cup punditry team, alongside the world-famous Paul Okon. (FourFourTwo Aus)
What did he say?
"By the way, you don’t need to call me Brett. Call me Emmo for short." (The Guardian)