The case of Nelly Yoa is consistently one of the strangest in Australian sport: At various times throughout his practically inexplicable ride to prominence he’s made claims to have been a burgeoning EPL prospect at Chelsea FC, had a high-profile AFL tryout with Collingwood that fell apart due to a coaching change, had a promising A-League career with Melbourne Victory and the Socceroos cruelly ended due to a machete attack, been best friends with Usain Bolt to the point of the sprinter being present for the birth of Yoa’s child, and been invited with welcome arms to last year’s Brownlow Medal ceremony. All claims that have since been proven to be complete and utter bullshit.

Studying Yoa’s various exploits paints a curious portrait of a man with no shame, who either partly or wholly believes the absolute tripe he serves up in order to grab whatever skerrick of spotlight that he can, and of a relentless social climber who just does and says things – consequences be damned – until he gets caught out. This extensive piece from The Monthly by the great Richard Cooke spells the whole scenario out far better than anyone else ever could. It’s an astonishing read.

But beneath the flash and bravado lies something a little more sinister: In February, Yoa pleaded guilty to charges of perjury stemming from false reports he made to police about being confronted by an armed woman.

On one occasion, Yoa told police he had been threatened by a woman with a knife at his home in 2016. The woman Yoa accused of the crime was at the movies in South Yarra at the time, not even remotely near Yoa’s Dandenong home.

In 2018, Yoa again filed claims with the police about the same woman, this time claiming she exposed a handgun to him in the Melbourne CBD. Yoa claimed he had to run through the city streets to escape her. CCTV footage later revealed neither Yoa, nor the woman he accused, were in the CBD that day.

Today, in arriving at court for sentencing, Yoa caused the mother of all stirs by – get this – rocking up in a flash white town car with a full “security detail” (read: probably actors) running alongside.

Better still, Yoa then tried to enter the court building through the lawyer’s entrance, before being told by actual security that he very much could not do that.

Not to be outdone there, he then told major commercial news cameras that the arrival was not “an attention seeking stunt,” and that the car – a Rolls Royce – was a loaner from “good mate,” Melbourne underground crime figure Mick Gatto.


Scenes. The scenes of it all.

At the absolute bare, whimpering minimum – which, frankly, is all someone like him deserves – the commitment to the bit has to be admired.

Image: AAP