Mustafa Amini will not be making up the numbers when he arrives at Caltex Socceroos camp for September’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier against Kuwait.
The 26-year-old’s European footballing voyage through Germany and Denmark has been one of trials and tribulations.
But Amini now feels he has come of age, and is ready to become a leader in the middle of the park for the Caltex Socceroos.
Formerly of Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, Amini has played in the Danish Superliga at both Randers FC and current club Aarhus GF, and since arriving at Aarhus in 2016 he’s felt his importance grow at the club.
“Being one of the longest here at the club I feel like I’m an important member and I always try to help,” Amini told socceroos.com.au.
“You have to set an example from when the younger boys step up into the first team, that’s always a nice thing.
“Just your way of behaviour around the city and around the life of the club, that’s important too.
“I’ve been here for a long time playing and now it’s my last season here so I’ll give it my best and hopefully achieve our club goal which is to get into the top six this season.”
An off-season of change at Aarhus has seen Australians Alex Gersbach and Zach Duncan join Amini at the Danish club, which has put Amini’s leadership skills to the test as he’s worked to make his new teammates feel at home.
“It’s nice having another couple of Aussies here,” Amini said.
“It’s always nice to integrate him (Zach Duncan) into the club and Gersbach is here as well.
“Once a week we do something, we call it a family dinner, either at my house or Gersbach’s house, our girlfriends cook and everyone is together just to make it feel a bit homely, which is quite nice.
“Zach (Duncan) has actually stayed at my house a couple of times as well.”
Along with his domestic ambition of a top six finish in the Superliga this season, Amini is motivated to become a mainstay in the national side throughout qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
The former Central Coast Mariner made his starting debut against Lebanon last November, and produced an eye-catching display for Australia against Korea Republic in June.
HOW TO WATCH: Kuwait v Caltex Socceroos
“The Korea camp was amazing,” Amini said.
“It was my second starting game in front of 55,000 people in Korea, one of the top nations of Asian football.
“It was a really good test... I think the whole squad took a lot out of it.”
But no one took more from that game than Amini, who impressed in his role of subduing Korea Republic and Tottenham Hotspur star Heung-Min Son, and received Son’s shirt after the game for his efforts in keeping the forward goalless.
“I also took a lot out of it that I know I can play at that level, but the hard work doesn’t stop,” Amini said.
“The thing with the national team is it’s not just about getting there, it’s about being able to stay and compete at that level all the time and being ready.
“It was a great confidence boost and I just keep looking forward to the next camp and to keep pushing.”
That boost in confidence could be just what Amini needs to push his claim for a starting role in the Australian midfield.
“Arnie speaks with every player and has a role for every player,” Amini said.
“Being in the midfield you have to have some leadership and lead the play, know when to press and not to press, that sort of stuff.
“Arnie and the coaching staff do an amazing job and as soon as you’re on the pitch, you know your job.
“We’re so well prepared, the coaching staff do a great job analysing each team to a tee, finding out their weaknesses and where we can exploit them.”
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