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|SoccerAnchor Profiles: Mark Milligan's move from JEF United Chiba to Melbourne Victory|
SoccerAnchor’s Paul Bastin takes a look Mark Milligan’s Melbourne motivation...
FROM: JEF United Chiba
TO: Melbourne Victory
PRICE: Free transfer
Mark Milligan has made his position at the Melbourne Victory official, signing a permanent deal that follows last season’s loan stint at the club.
Having lost marquee player Harry Kewell due to family reasons and Costa Rican sensation Carlos Hernandez, Milligan’s versatility and capacity to fill a role in both defence and midfield is a welcome addition for the Victory and new manager Ange Postecoglou.
The 26 year-old has spent the majority of his career in Australia and will return to build on that history. Getting his break in 2002/2003 with the Northern Spirit in the National Soccer League, Milligan began to emerge as a quality young player when he moved to Sydney FC in the inaugural season of the A-League in 2005/2006.
Such was his rapid improvement, Milligan was selected in the Socceroos 2006 World Cup squad and earned his debut off the bench against Liechtenstein in a warm up match.
A solid contributor for Sydney, coupled with a strong Asian Cup campaign for the Socceroos, Milligan was prompted to push for an opportunity in Europe prior to the start of their club seasons in the middle of 2007.
However, the effort was shrouded in controversy after it was revealed that Milligan hadn't received permission from Sydney to chase his dream. The effort and his hopes quickly dissolved, returning home to Sydney.
Milligan switched to the Newcastle Jets for the 2008/2009 season but opted to move on in the January transfer window, signing his first professional contract outside of Australia when he joined Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua. His stay was again short lived, becoming a member of relegated J-League side JEF United Chiba in 2010.
In January 2012, Melbourne Victory brought Milligan to the club on loan in a bid to strengthen their defensive structures. Clearly impressing club officials, Milligan was snapped up in July on a three-year contract.
In a decade as a professional footballer, Milligan has played for seven clubs. Stability can be a highly beneficial factor in a player’s development, and it is something that has escaped Milligan to date. Having said this, his experience and understanding of Australia’s football style and system will hold him in great sted to be the pillar of strength in defence that the Victory desire.
On a personal level, Milligan has aired his belief that consistest A-League performances can be a springboard toward a key focus, the 2014 World Cup. Melbourne’s achilles heel last season was certainly defence, and continuity in Milligan’s game could go a long way toward solving that undeniable issue, as well as bringing him closer to realising his World Cup ambitions.
The beauty of Milligan is that he could also play a significant role in midfield, but expect him to make his name in the defensive third first and foremost.