Marcelo making a name in Wanderers history

Former Wanderers legend and Japanese maestro Shinji Ono recently announced he will retire at the end of the J-League season in Japan at the remarkable age of 44.

Ono is considered by most fans – as well as many pundits – to be the best foreigner to ever put on the Red and Black, and even the best player the club has ever had.

Whilst he only scored 11 goals in 57 games for the club, he was magic with the ball at his feet, and was a key reason the Wanderers were so successful in their first few seasons.

The club has had many foreign players make a strong impact; Oriol Riera, Youssouf Hersi, and Alberto Aguilar spring to mind, but none captured the hearts of Western Sydney like Ono did.

But now he may have a contender for the best foreigner to ever play for the Wanderers in current captain Marcelo.

The 36-year-old Brazilian joined the club last year as the final key signing in Marko Rudan’s revolution, after a celebrated career in the Netherlands, Germany and France.

The faith Rudan had in his enforcer at the back was clear from day one, as he was named the new captain of the club before he’d even kicked a ball in the A-League.

The Wanderers were crying out for a top quality centre back, as well as a strong centre-back partnership to rival that of Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Matthew Spiranovic from the club’s Asian Champions League run in 2014; Tomi Mrcela was already at the club, but he needed a partner alongside him.

It was evident from the first game of the season the Wanderers had a special player on their hands, and more importantly an on the field leader the team had been craving for years.

He led the side to back-to-back clean sheets to begin the season, and the Wanderers were consistently the best defensive team in the league from start to end, as they only conceded 27 goals in 28 regular season games and secured a top four finish.

Whilst the likes of Mrcela and goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas also played pivotal roles in the successful defence, Marcelo was the glue that held it all together, being a menace in the air at both ends of the pitch, putting in crucial sliding challenges to thwart the opposition, as well as even chipping in with the occasional assist from a long ball.

He was the chief motivator of the team and helped ignite the passion in the Wanderers side and lift those around him.

He and his family quickly settled in Western Sydney, and he re-signed for an extra season back in April, having become one of the most important players in the side.

Far from being a flash in the pan, he has continued his strong form in the 2023/24 season; he scored a thumping header in a 5-0 win over Western United, and also recorded a key assist in a come from behind draw against Newcastle.

The Wanderers are top of the league and once again the best defensive side in the league, which they demonstrated in a gritty 1-0 Sydney Derby win last round, where Marcelo was a constant threat on attacking set pieces and successfully nullified the opposition’s attack time after time.

Whilst Marcelo may be less flashy than Shinji Ono was back in the first two seasons of Wanderers football, it’s difficult to deny that Marcelo is now beginning to hold the same importance to the Wanderers as he leads the side in ability and mentality on and off the pitch.

The Wanderers – with Marcelo as their talisman – are aiming for silverware at seasons end, and if Marcelo can help lead the Wanderers back to the promised land, he could just become the Red & Black’s greatest ever import.