He was the Hyundai A-League teenager who caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp nearly eight years ago. And after fighting tooth and nail to fulfil his European dream, Mustafa Amini is ready to do the same with the Caltex Socceroos.
Amini – now a midfield star for Danish Superliga club Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF) – had to take the hard road to establish himself in a top European division.
The 26-year-old went through his paces alongside the likes of Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski after signing for Borussia Dortmund in 2011, but struggled to break into the first-team picture at the Bundesliga heavyweights and left four years later.
However, the former Central Coast Mariner – who was part of Graham Arnold’s Premiership winning side in 2011/12 – did not let his head drop and moved to Denmark to fulfil his European ambitions, first with Randers and then with five-time Danish champions AGF, where he has played more than 100 times since June 2016.
He was recently named AGF’s Player of the Season, having led the club to the brink of a UEFA Europa League Playoff final, only to miss out by conceding a gut-wrenching last-second goal to Randers in the second leg of their semi-final.
But Amini is ready to put that disappointment behind him in the best way possible: by pressing his claim for a position in Australia’s midfield in Friday’s friendly with Korea Republic.
“I’ve been in Europe for seven years now working hard and it’s all for coming here [to Caltex Socceroos camp] and hopefully getting a start and making the nation proud,” Amini told www.socceroos.com.au.
“I was 18 when I moved to [Borussia] Dortmund.
“It's been a tough road, a lonely road. My girlfriend has moved over, but it’s tough. It’s the world of football in Europe.
“I’ve fought it out and I’m going to keep going. I’m playing week in and week out, so I’m very happy.”
Amini is recognised as the undisputed FIFA 19 king at the Caltex Socceroos camp in Busan.
But there will be no room for fun and games in Friday’s clash with Paulo Bento’s Korea Republic, in which Amini is keen to make an impression.
“There’s big expectations. Korea Republic are a top nation, they knocked out Germany in the [2018 FIFA] World Cup and have brought their full-strength team,” he said.
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