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Mark Milligan (born 4 August 1985 in Sydney, Australia) is an Australian football player who is currently playing for Shanghai Shenhua. He was also the regular captain of the Australian Under 23 football team and has been capped for the junior Australian National team. He is a utility defender, originally known as a right-back, but more recently playing in both central defence and central midfield.

Club career

Sydney FC

After being schooled in the fullback trade by Niall Smith while on a loan spell with Castle Villa, Milligan played for Northern Spirit FC in the National Soccer League. He joined Sydney FC prior to the commencement of the inaugural A-League season in 2005–06, but due to injury did not debut until the round 14 match away to . He was one of Sydney FC's best performers of the season. He played consistently until being suspended after the major semi final victory over Adelaide United and missed the Grand Final victory over Central Coast.

Overseas ambitions

FourFourTwo magazine revealed on July 28, 2007 that after the Asian Cup Milligan had gone without his club's permission to trial for teams in Europe. Milligan was linked with French sides FC Metz and RC Lens. The following day Milligan reportedly walked out on Metz just before a scheduled trial game appearance against Standard Liege, allegedly out of frustration at the right-back position he would be trialled in. The following day it was reported that Milligan would return home to play for Sydney FC after all.He has since been linked with a move to English Premier League clubs Blackburn Roversmarker, Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as RC Lens in France's Ligue 1, and more recently with FC Porto in the Portuguese Liga and Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, during the summer of 2008 despite obvious issues of his eligibility to play in Europe due to his non-EU status.

Back to Australia

On 21 October 2008, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Milligan signed a guest contract with Newcastle United Jets for seven weeks. He made his debut on 24 October 2008, against Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadiummarker, Gosfordmarker, where his team lost 1–0.

Playing in China

Milligan joined Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua in January 2009, signing a three-year contract.

On May 19, Milligan scored his first goal for Shanghai Shenhua in their 1–1 draw in the AFC Champions League group stage match against Kashima Antlers.

International career

Milligan represented Australia at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands. In May 2006, he was the youngest player selected in the Australian 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, being one of only two players chosen from the A-League - the other being Michael Beauchamp. Milligan had impressed coaches Graham Arnold and Johan Neeskens at a recent camp in Vietnammarker, while Guus Hiddink also recalled watching Milligan at the World Youth Championship.

Milligan made his senior international debut against Liechtenstein on 7 June 2006, coming off the bench in the 85th minute of Australia's last warm-up game before the World Cup. He did not play in any of Australia's four World Cup games in Germany. His first start came against Kuwait in an Asian Cup qualifier on 16 August 2006. His next appearance was on 7 October 2006 in a friendly against Paraguay as a late substitute.

In February 2007, Milligan was named as captain of the Australian U23 side, the 'Olyroos', for two Olympic qualifying games against Chinese Taipei. He sustained a broken nose in an 'off-the-ball' incident during the second qualifier.

Throughout 2007, Milligan led the Olyroos to Olympic qualification and was the key influential figure in their final games against Iraq and North Korea, scoring in each game and taking the man of the match award in both.

2007 Asian Cup

Milligan was selected in the Australian squad for the 2007 Asian Cup. During the tournament, Milligan was selected to play in the starting line-up for Australia against co-host nation Thailand in the final game of the group matches. Australia won 4–0 and advanced to the quarter finals of the competition with Milligan putting in what was widely regarded as a Man of the Match performance in the centre of a three man defence.

On July 21, 2007, in the quarter-final against Japan, Milligan was unfortunate in failing to clear a ball from the penalty area that saw striker Naohiro Takahara pounce and score an equaliser. The game ended 1–1 and Australia was eliminated from the Cup on penalties.

In February 2008, he was selected for the first World Cup Qualifier against Qatar but pulled out of the squad with a broken nose that he accidentally sustained in training.

Career statistics

All-Time Club Performance
Club Season League Cup Continental

Total
App Goals App Goals App Goals App  Goals
Northern Spirit 2002 3 0 - - - - 3 0
2003 13 1 - - - - 13 1
Total 16 1 - - - - 16 1
Blacktown City Demons 2004 9 5 - - - - 9 5
Total 9 5 - - - - 9 5
Sydney FC 05-06 19 1 3 0 - - 22 1
06-07 21 0 3 1 5 0 29 1
07-08 12 0 2 0 - - 14 0
Total 52 1 8 1 5 0 65 2
Newcastle Jets 08-09 11 1 0 0 - - 11 1
Total 11 1 - - - - 11 1
Shanghai Shenhua 2009 23 1 0 0 5 1 28 2
Total 23 1 0 0 5 1 28 2
Career Totals 115 9 8 1 10 1 133 12


Honours

With Sydney FC:

References

  1. "Spike goes AWOL for Metz trial", July 28, 2007
  2. "Milligan Missing - Again", July 30, 2007; SBS The World Game website" Retrieved on July 30, 2007
  3. "Milligan set to stay with SFC", July 31, 2007 Four Four Two Magazine, Retrieved on August 1, 2007
  4. "One out, one back", August 2, 2007, SBS "The World Game" websiteRetrieved on August 2, 2007


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