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Heading into the unknown: three NI players who also made Australia move

Sydney FC captain Terry McFlynn holds the A-League trophy aloft after defeating the Melbourne Victory in the 2010 Grand Final (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Sydney FC captain Terry McFlynn holds the A-League trophy aloft after defeating the Melbourne Victory in the 2010 Grand Final (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

As Bobby Burns prepares to make the switch to Australia and join the Newcastle Jets, he's following a trail that has been walked by a trio of Northern Irish players before.

The A-League is no stranger to our local players, and here we take a look at the three who have gone before Burns and will serve as inspiration to the Under-21 international.

Aaron Hughes

Aaron Hughes playing for Melbourne City during the 2015-16 A-League season (Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire)

The most high-profile Northern Irishman to head to Australia, international legend Hughes spent one season with the Melbourne Victory in 2015/16.

After he was released by Brighton & Hove Albion, the centre-back made the shock switch to the A-League at the urging of good friend Damien Duff, his former team-mate at Fulham.

However, his career in Melbourne never really got off the ground as he found himself in and out of the team in a season where City finished fourth in the table and were eliminated in the semi-finals of both the play-offs and the cup.

Hughes scored his one and only goal for Melbourne in a 2-2 draw against Sydney FC and was released at the end of the season having made just six appearances.

Terry McFlynn

Terry McFlynn, as captain of Sydney FC, holds the 2010 A-League trophy aloft after winning the Grand Final match against the Melbourne Victory (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Possibly the most successful Northern Irishman you've never heard of, McFlynn represented Sydney FC with distinction for nine seasons and won three trophies with the club.

Born in Swatragh, near Maghera, McFlynn joined Queens Park Rangers as a promising 15-year-old, however after making only two senior appearances in five years with the London club, he was released.

Short spells with Woking, Margate and Morecambe in the English lower leagues followed, with each of whom he had a fair amount of success, but when the opportunity to join the newly-formed A-League arose, he jumped at the chance.

Following the advice of former team-mate Chris Zoricich, from New Zealand, McFlynn joined Sydney after a short trial in 2005, which would prove the best decision of his career.

The Sky Blues reached the inaugural A-League final in 2006 and the Northern Irishman played the full 90 minutes in their 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners as they clinched their first silverware.

McFlynn's most successful season came in the 2009-10 campaign when he and his Sydney team-mates finished top of the regular season standings, earning them the Premiership trophy.

Then, in the play-offs, McFlynn captained the team to victory in the Grand Final as they defeated the Melbourne Victory on penalties to lift their second Championship title.

The Swatragh man took over the full-time captaincy at the start of the next season and led Sydney in their first two AFC Champions League campaigns, before announcing his retirement in April 2014 at the age of 33.

Now 38, he is considered to be one of the club's legendary players having been inducted into their Hall of Fame and is second in their all-time appearance list with 214.

He left his role as football operations manager at Sydney FC, ending a 14-year association with the club, at the start of the year and is now the Academy and Westfield W-League manager with another A-League team, Perth Glory.

Honours: A-League Championship (2006, 2010), A-League Premiership (2010)

Jonny Steele

Jonny Steele while on Northern Ireland duty back in 2013 (William Cherry/Presseye)

Larne man Steele will probably be best remembered for his stints in Major League Soccer, but he also had a brief sojourn to Australia in the middle of his career.

The former Northern Ireland international, who made three appearances for the senior team, played for the Newcastle Jets for a short time in 2014, however it didn't last long.

After signing for the Jets in July, the two sides came to a mutual decision to terminate the contract two days before Christmas of the same year, with Steele having made just two appearances.

Steele is currently still playing having joined Isthmian League South East Division side Ramsgate at the start of this season.

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