Adelaide United Football Club was founded in September 2003 joining the National Soccer League (NSL) ahead of the 2003/04 season following the withdrawals of both West Adelaide and Adelaide City. Basil Scarsella was appointed as the inaugural Chairman with the backing of the South Australia Soccer Federation and Adelaide Builder and property developer Gordon Pickard. The newly formed Club, nicknamed the Reds, was known as the ‘People’s Team’, representing all South Australians under a united footballing brand.
Following the NSL ending in 2004, a new national league competition was formed called the Hyundai A-League which Adelaide has now competed in since the league’s inception in August 2005. The Club has since grown, with a Women’s team and Youth team established in 2008 which participates in the Westfield W-League and Foxtel Y-League as well as the local National Premier League respectively.
Adelaide United plays its home matches at Coopers Stadium, which holds a capacity of 17,000 and regarded as one of the best venues to play and watch football in the country. Success has also followed the Reds, securing a maiden Championship in 2016, along with being crowned Premiers that same year to claim a historic double. United have also won a record three FFA Cups and are the first side to go back-to-back, lifting the trophy in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
The Reds quickly emerged as a dominant force in the Hyundai A-League and were crowned inaugural Premiers, and set several records. These included the fastest ever goal (Louis Brain – 13 seconds), three top 10 goals of the season (Shengqing Qu) and best away record (8 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses). During the 2006/07 season, the Reds reached the Grand Final and finished as runners-up to Melbourne Victory. United missed the finals series in the 2007/08 campaign, but began its second AFC Champions League journey to great success, topping the group to progress to the knockout phase.
Adelaide United’s 2008/09 campaign saw the Reds qualify for the 2008 AFC Champions League following a mesmerising cup run to surface on the international stage. As a result of making the final, Adelaide competed in the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup in Japan where the Club secured a commendable 5th place and the FIFA Fair Play Award. Adelaide would also finish the domestic season with a second Hyundai A-League Grand Final appearance.
In the 2010/11 season, Adelaide United bounced back from finishing bottom the previous season, playing a free-scoring brand of football, to finish third on the table. However, the Reds suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 home loss to Gold Coast United in the second week of the finals.
The season also saw Adelaide claim its first Johnny Warren medallist in Marcos Flores (awarded to the best player in the league), as well as a first Hyundai A-League Golden Boot winner in striker Sergio van Dijk, who bagged 16 goals at the end of the regular season. United made the top six in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons before bowing out of the first round of the finals.
In the 2014/15 season Adelaide ended its silverware drought by lifting the maiden Westfield FFA Cup under Head Coach Josep Gombau, following a 1-0 win over Perth Glory in the final at Coopers Stadium. The Reds subsequently finished third in the regular season, but eliminated in the semi-finals.
Barcelona legend, Guillermo Amor, was appointed Head Coach of the Club for the 2015/16 season. A difficult start had the Reds winless after the first eight rounds and situated at the bottom of the table. But Adelaide pulled off the unthinkable, which comprised of a 14-match unbeaten streak, on its way to clinch the Premiers’ Plate.
A few weeks later, Adelaide secured an elusive Championship after beating the Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final in front of a sell-out crowd at Adelaide Oval, to win the double and cap off the Club’s most successful season to date.
Ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, Marco Kurz, was appointed Head Coach and in charge of taking a majority new-look Reds outfit higher up the table. A number of signings were made as a changing of the guard took place to revamp and strengthen the squad. The German tactician implemented a dynamic, high-pressing system, differing from the more Spanish possession-based philosophy which preceded his arrival.
After a scintillating run Adelaide reached the Westfield FFA Cup Final, before falling short in a 2-1 extra-time loss to Sydney FC. United’s league form was also solid as Kurz guided Adelaide to fifth place, only to be eliminated in the first round of the finals after conceding seconds before full-time. A change of ownership also occurred towards the end of the season with Dutchman Piet van der Pol heading a consortium of investors to become the Club’s new Chairman.
Adelaide made several acquisitions, headlined by the return of Craig Goodwin ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. For a second straight season, the Reds made the FFA Cup Final and again faced Sydney FC in a rematch of the decider from a year earlier. However, fate would not repeat itself as Adelaide recorded a 2-1 win in the FFA Cup Final 2018 at Coopers Stadium, as the South Australians became the first team to win the trophy twice.
A strong finish in the A-League saw the Reds secure fourth spot and defeat Melbourne City in a home Elimination Final, courtesy of a dramatic 1-0 extra-time winner. Adelaide travelled to play minor premiers Perth Glory a week later and after trailing 2-0 down, the Reds scored twice which included a 90+4’ minute equaliser to force extra-time. But after it finished 3-3 following 120 minutes, United would succumb to a heartbreaking 5-4 penalty shootout loss.
Adelaide began the 2019/20 season with a resounding 4-0 victory over Melbourne City in the FFA Cup Final 2019 to become the first team to win the competition three times and defend their title. Al Hassan Toure opened the scoring before second-half goals from Ben Halloran, Nikola Mileusnić and Riley McGree sealed a memorable night in front of a crowd of 14,920 at Coopers Stadium. Following the COVID-19 enforced break, Carl Veart was appointed interim boss for the remainder of the campaign before being given the permanent Head Coach role on a two-year contract.
In Veart’s first full season in charge he led the Reds to a fifth place finish and a road Elimination Final win over Brisbane Roar before suffering a 2-1 Semi-final loss to Sydney FC. Adelaide reached the finals again in 2021/22, finishing fourth and defeated Central Coast Mariners 3-1 in a home Elimination Final. The Reds then faced Melbourne City over two legs for a place in the title decider. After a 0-0 draw at Coopers Stadium, United would fall short in extra-time of the second leg, losing 2-1 on aggregate.
Best moments of the decade: 2010-2019
2005/06 Inaugural Premiers (Coach – John Kosmina)
2006/07 Finished 2nd (Coach – John Kosmina)
2007/08 Finished 6th (Coach – Aurelio Vidmar)
2008/09 Finished 2nd (Coach – Aurelio Vidmar)
2009/10 Finished 10th (Coach – Aurelio Vidmar)
2010/11 Finished 3rd (Coach – Rini Coolen)
2011/12 Finished 9th (Coach – Rini Coolen, replaced by John Kosmina)
2012/13 Finished 4th (Coach – John Kosmina, replaced by Michael Valkanis)
2013/14 Finished 6th (Coach – Josep Gombau)
2014/15 Finished 3rd (Coach – Josep Gombau)
2015/16 Premiers / Champions (Coach – Guillermo Amor)
2016/17 Finished 9th (Coach – Guillermo Amor)
2017/18 Finished 5th (Coach – Marco Kurz)
2018/19 Finished 4th (Coach – Marco Kurz)
2019/20 Finished 7th (Coach – Gertjan Verbeek, replaced by Carl Veart)
2020/21 Finished 5th (Coach – Carl Veart)
2021/22 Finished 4th (Coach – Carl Veart)
2014 – Winners
2015 – Quarter Finals
2016 – Round of 32
2017 – Runners-up
2018 – Winners
2019 – Winners
2020 – Not held
2021 – Quarter Finals
History of Achievements
2005/06 Hyundai A-League Premiers
2006 Pre Season Cup Champions
2006/07 Hyundai A-League Grand Finalists
2007 Pre Season Cup Champions
2007 AFC Champions League Group Stage
2007/08 Hyundai A-League Rising Star (Bruce Djite)
2008 FFA Hall of Fame inductee (Aurelio Vidmar)
2008 AFC Champions League Runners-up
2008 FIFA Club World Cup qualification (Finished 5th)
2008 FIFA Club World Cup ‘Fair Play Award’
2008 FIFA Club World Cup Goal of the Tournament (Cristiano)
2008/09 Hyundai A-League Grand Finalists
2008/09 Hyundai A-League Rising Star (Scott Jamieson)
2008/09 Hyundai A-League Goal Keeper of the Year (Eugene Galekovic)
2008/09 Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year (Aurelio Vidmar)
2009 The Advertiser/Channel 7 Sports Star of the Year – Coach of the Year (Aurelio Vidmar)
2009/10 Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year (Eugene Galekovic)
2010 AFC Champions League Round of 16
2010/11 Hyundai A-League Golden Boot (Sergio van Dijk)
2010/11 Hyundai A-League Johnny Warren Medallist (Marcos Flores)
2010/11 Hyundai A-League Fan Group of the Year Award
2012 AFC Champions League Quarter Finals
2012/13 National Youth League Player of the Year (Awer Mabil)
2013/14 Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year (Eugene Galekovic)
2013/14 National Youth League Golden Boot (Anthony Costa)
2014 Westfield FFA Cup Winners
2014 Mark Viduka Medal (Sergio Cirio)
2014/15 Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year (Eugene Galekovic)
2014/15 NAB Young Football of The Year (Jimmy Jeggo)
2014/15 Hyundai A-League Goal of the Year (Tarek Elrich)
2016 AFC Champions League Preliminary Round
2015/16 Hyundai A-League Premiers
2015/16 Hyundai A-League Champions
2015/16 Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year (Guillermo Amor)
2017 AFC Champions League Group Stage
2017/18 Foxtel Y-League Player of the Year (Louis D’Arrigo)
2018 FFA Cup Winners
2018 Mark Viduka Medal (Craig Goodwin)
2019 FFA Cup Winners
2019 Mark Viduka Medal (Al Hassan Toure)
2019/20 A-League Young Footballer of the Year (Riley McGree)