Mark Milligan admits why he left Melbourne Victory for Al Ahli

Having been embraced once again in Melbourne Victory colours, championship-winning captain Mark Milligan shocked many when he departed the A-League club in late January to sign for Saudi Arabian giants Al Ahli.

Mark Milligan admits why he left Melbourne Victory for Al Ahli

Mark Milligan admits why he left Melbourne Victory for Al Ahli

With a transfer fee rumoured to be around the million-dollar mark, money no doubt played some part in the move, but it’s the sheer size of the club that really turned Milligan’s head. 

"I choose to take the move to Al Ahli obviously because of the size of the club," Milligan told The Asian Game podcast.

"In negotiations they were very keen on acquiring my services and I think when a club is pushing that hard you know you’re going to play a role in what they’re trying to achieve. 

"Obviously they have high expectations of the team and sitting second on the table, still in the cup and Champions League so I think the challenge of coming into such a big club in the Asian region was too good an offer to sort of look past."

Milligan regularly played in front of large crowds in Victory colours - even lifting the club's third A-League championship in front of 29,000 fans at AAMI Park in 2015 during his first stint at the club.

However in making his debut for Al Ahli against bitter rivals Al Ittihad in a 0-0 away draw, Milligan saw first hand the magnitude of support in the region.

"The fans there are fanatical," he said.

"I was fortunate enough to play my first game in the derby against Al Ittihad and there were 62,000 fans there...it was unbelievable.

"They have high expectations on the club too, and I like those pressures to succeed."

Since his Saudi League debut, Milligan has also featured in a 2-1 home league win over Al Faisaly and 1-0 away win in the Asian Champions League against Iranian side Tractor Sazi.

His Al Ahli team will continue their Saudi domestic campaign with a match on the road against Al Feiha on Saturday (AEDT).

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