Tony Dorigo led the way for Australia players at Leeds United, who meet Aston Villa at Suncorp Stadium in the Queensland Champions Cup.
There will be no doubting Tony Dorigo’s allegiances at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday when two of the Melbourne-born ex-England international’s former clubs meet in an all-Premier League Queensland Champions Cup battle.
About 40,000 people are expected at the clash between Leeds United and Aston Villa, who are both in Queensland preparing for the start of the English Premier League season next month.
Dorigo moved to England as a teenager in 1983 to join Villa, where he stayed for four years before signing with Chelsea.
However it was his time at Leeds from 1991 to 1997 that Dorigo is best remembered for, with the stint including a top-flight title-winning season.
“I’m on the Leeds side,” said Dorigo, who now works for the Yorkshire-based club as an ambassador.
“(But) it’s a tricky one. Villa was my first club in England so I have some feeling for them as well, but we don’t want to lose against them.”
Leeds are expected to have more support at Suncorp Stadium, and to celebrate the occasion, Caxton Street, which borders one end of the world famous Milton venue, has been temporarily renamed Elland Road in honour of Leeds’ home ground.
“You can’t write any words to describe the Elland Road atmosphere – you have to experience it,” Dorigo said.
“The noise they create inside there is quite incredible.”
Dorigo said was proud to be a trailblazer for a host of other Australians – including Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Paul Okon, Jacob Burns, Danny Milosevic and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff – who have been on Leeds’ books.
“It’s nice to blaze that path and see a load of others from Australia come through,” he said.
“The way Leeds played in the 1970s, we got fans all around the world. Unfortunately, recently it hasn’t been as easy.
“We were in the (second-tier) English Championship for a very long time, but those fans are still there, and now that we’re back in the Premier League, it’s reignited all our fans around the world.”
Villa will also have support on Sunday, with their former Liverpool and Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho certain to capture the attention of supporters from both sides.
Villa manager Steven Gerrard said Brazilian playmaker Coutinho – who joined the club on loan from Barcelona in January before signing a permanent deal in May – was ready for a big season.
“Phil joined us on the back of not playing much football,” Gerrard said of his former Liverpool teammate.
“He ignited the place initially and then he had a period where he was getting used to the speed and the intensity of the Premier League again.
“Now having the luxury of a full pre-season with Phil, I’m sure he’s going to have a fantastic season and I can’t wait to see him play again.
“He knows how to win. He brings massive experience and real big standards into this group.”