From the A-League to Asia: Cornthwaite reveals why Australians can't afford to stick around

Robbie Cornthwaite
The Australian defender admits Asia is an advantageous place to play for cash-strapped A-League players

The lure of Asian football has become increasingly strong over the past decade and former Socceroo Robert Cornthwaite is one of many Australians that have made the move from the A-League.

Cornthwaite, who confirmed his retirement earlier this year after suffering an injury, ended his career with Malaysian side Perak after a season and half with Western Sydney Wanderers.

The 32-year-old defender began his career with Adelaide United before subsequent moves to South Korea with Jeonnam Dragons and Malaysia with Selangor.

After getting a taste of both A-League and Asian football, Cornthwaite conceded the latter has become increasingly appealing for a lot of Australians due to the financial realities surrounding the game.

"A lot of players in Australia might just be getting frustrated with Australian football and unless you’re a really big name or a marquee it can be difficult to earn a very good living," Cornthwaite told Goal.

"In saying that the salaries are quite good but the cost of living is so much higher that whenever an opportunity comes up in Asia, regardless of the team…financially it just makes more sense.

"In Malaysia the fact that they pay for accommodation, car and all these things the cost of living is a bit a lower and the salary is a bit higher. For a lot of players, especially a mid-age player, 25 and up that’s not going to make it in Europe, you have to start thinking about setting yourself up and getting some financial security and south-east Asia offers that." 

Brendan Gan, Robert Cornthwaite, Perak

While Fox Sports have provided additional funds for marquee signings in the A-League this season, the average player is still on quite modest wages.

Cornthwaite revealing that some veterans of the competition need to find a new job as soon as they retire from football to keep afloat financially. 

"It’s a league that at the moment can’t afford to pay an abundance of money," he said.

"There are players that have played ten years or their whole careers in the A-League and as soon as they finish playing they have to go and get a job because they need to survive, need an income.

"As much as people don’t like to hear it, a lot of it comes down to money."

After falling out under Josep Gombau at the Wanderers, Cornthwaite is confident new coach Markus Babbel can turn his former club around.

Robbie Cornthwaite Western Sydney Wanderers

Western Sydney missed out on finals for just the second time in their history last season and have brought in Babbel as they look to get back on track. 

"I think from what we’ve see of German coaches…they’re very strong, very demanding, their teams are always fit," Cornthwaite said. 

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"Marco Kurz at Adelaide United we’ve seen that already last year and Adelaide were a very strong team and I think it’ll be something similar with Western Sydney.

"I think they’ll have a style that’s all about high energy, working hard and giving 100 percent.

"When he puts his experience and tactics on top of that then you can start producing results, but it’s all about creating that base. He seems like a guy that doesn’t take a backwards step."