He might not have been the most well-known player when he arrived, but Bart Schenkeveld will be sorely missed.
The Dutchman departs Melbourne City after two stellar seasons – often the shining light in Warren Joyce’s much criticised style of play – winning the club’s player of the season award in his first season
His impact was similar to – if not more significant than – Melbourne Victory’s Matthieu Delpierre who helped the club win the its third Championship.
It is an interesting comparison to make, considering the two are some of the more skillful defenders seen in the A-League.
Delpierre had the ball on a string and made a mediocre Victory defence seem almost impenetrable.
Like Schenkeveld, the Frenchman finished his A-League career with his only goal coming against the Western Sydney Wanderers – which he scored on debut.
Playing alongside emerging defenders like Nick Ansell and Jason Geria – Delpierre made them look at home, having a presence which was reassuring for teammates and imposing for opposition players.
His influence in Victory’s 2014/15 season was significant and despite missing several matches due to injury, is widely regarded as the best central defender to play in the A-League.
Albeit, this tag may now belong to Schenkeveld who has had an equally impressive two seasons at Melbourne City.
Despite not winning the silverware Delpierre did, Schenkeveld’s impact was immense as he held together what was at one stage, the league’s best defence.
The 27-year-old helped keep 16 clean sheets across his two seasons at the club, but his most memorable moment came when he scored the winner in City’s 4-3 thriller against the Western Sydney Wanderers last season.
Had it not been for the three knee injuries he suffered as a teenager there might not have been any stopping him as he represented the Netherlands at youth level since he was 14.
The A-League was lucky to have Schenkeveld – especially at his peak.
Melbourne City may not have wanted to elevate him to marquee status but there is no question he was far too for the A-League.
Unfortunately, he was not able to be part of a successful Melbourne City team – with the side failing to make its mark in the finals series or qualify for the Asian Champions League.
What makes it difficult to compare Schenkeveld to Delpierre was the Frenchman, in contrast, came at the end of his career after several campaigns in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart.
With this in mind it is difficult not to lean towards Schenkeveld as the best centre back seen in the A-League, despite it being difficult to ignore Delpierre’s impact in Victory’s triumphant season.