As a player he was a goalkeeper from 1989 until 2008 and notably played in the Premier League for Coventry City, and, having also been contracted without playing for Nottingham Forest in England"s top division. He also played in the Football League for Cambridge United and Doncaster Rovers, and in his native country for Saint George Saints, Wollongong Wolves and Sydney F.C. He was capped three times by Australia.
He played for Saint George Saints and Wollongong Wolves in the old National Soccer League in Australia before moving to England to join Cambridge United in 1993, after an unsuccessful trial at Southampton. In 1995 he signed for Coventry City, then moved on to in 1997.
He joined in December 2001 for £600,000.
Prior to the start of Wigan"s debut season in the Premier League he had missed only one match for the club but was injured at the start of the 2005-2006 season with Wigan"s new signing Mike Pollitt taking his place in the side. Filan, however signed a new contract which kept him at the club until 2007. Seeing out his contract with Wigan, he was released at the end of the season.
Whilst at Wigan he appeared as a substitute in the 2006 Football League Cup Final when Pollitt had to come off early in the first half with an injury.
As he has an Irish passport through his ancestry, he once sought to play international football for Ireland. However, Fédération internationale de football association ruled against it in February 1999 because he had played for the Australian Olympic team
Filan returned to Australia in semi-retirement, resettling in his home town of Sydney. In August 2007 agreed terms with A-League side Sydney Football Club as backup to Clint Bolton, however the deal fell through citing outside issues.