Caltex Socceroos attacker Andrew Nabbout has revealed coach Bert van Marwijk’s message to him after earning a call-up to the extended 26-man FIFA World Cup squad.
Currently still in action for club side Urawa Red Diamonds, Nabbout will play his final J.League game on Saturday before flying out to Turkey for a pre-World Cup training camp.
It is there where the former Hyundai A-League star will look to impress van Marwijk, with the Dutchman already explaining to Nabbout his thoughts about his role.
"(Van Marwijk) has pretty much told me he wants me to play out wide but also play as a number nine as well," Nabbout told Reuters.
"He said: 'I need you to be ready for both of those roles'. And I’m more than ready."
Nabbout has been named alongside six other attackers in van Marwijk’s extended squad, headlined by strikers Tim Cahill and Tomi Juric.
There is also competition for places in wide areas, with Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Daniel Arzani and former Newcastle Jets teammate Dimitri Petratos also picked.
It was playing alongside Petratos at the Jets where Nabbout was able to rocket into national team contention, with the 25-year-old scoring the Hyundai A-League Regular Season Goal of the Year, earning a transfer to Urawa and a Caltex Socceroos call-up in the space of two weeks.
"Looking back at it now, it has been a bit of a whirlwind," Nabbout said.
"When you look at everything in general, a lot has happened over the last few months.
"It’s all falling into place but that’s not happened because of luck or anything else. That’s pure hard work."
For Nabbout, the reward for his hard work has been years in the making after seasons in the wilderness and turning down chances to play for the country of his parents, Lebanon.
After bursting onto the Hyundai A-League scene with Melbourne Victory, Nabbout found regular game time difficult to come by and spent a year in Malaysia where he was Negeri Sembilan FA’s top scorer before being released.
Despite this, Lebanon had remained interested in calling up the versatile attacker who has now earned two Caltex Socceroos caps.
"They’ve been in contact with me constantly to try have me pledge my allegiance to them but I’ve always said that the Socceroos is my goal and I’ve declined every call from the Lebanese national team until now," he said.
"I was really grateful to get my chance in the Socceroos and there’s no looking back now."
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