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Smarter, stronger Nabbout returns and wants Socceroos slot back

Fast forward to October 2019, however, and the narrative is different.

Nabbout did rebuild his career in Malaysia and then with an impressive spell at the Newcastle Jets under former Victory boss Ernie Merrick.

Back in navy blue: Andrew Nabbout is excited to be back at Melbourne Victory.

Back in navy blue: Andrew Nabbout is excited to be back at Melbourne Victory.Credit:Getty Images

So much so that he first earned a move to Japanese power club Urawa Red Diamonds, one of the J-League’s biggest, and then was called into the Socceroos line-up by caretaker coach Bert van Marwijk.

The Dutchman liked Nabbout’s workrate, team discipline and mindset so much that he made him the focal point of the Socceroos’ frontline in the opening two matches in Russia, only leaving him out when he sustained a shoulder injury.

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While the spell at Urawa might not have been as successful as Nabbout would have hoped – he made 16 appearances and scored one goal – he nevertheless looks back on it as an invaluable experience which only improved him as a player.

“I wouldn’t say it didn’t work out. I had a lot of injuries there but I gained a lot of experience and I have come back a much more mature and well-rounded player so it was something I learned from. I am definitely looking to bring that back here and perform as well as I can,” he said.

“I have come back a little more mature than I was the first time I was here. It’s good, I am around familiar faces, there’s a lot of people around the club I am familiar with and it’s really good to be on home soil.”

He is particularly excited about playing alongside the returning Robbie Kruse and new captain Ola Toivonen.

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“Robbie’s been out for a little while, but with Ola it’s really good to have someone like that up top who I can play off. His intelligence on the pitch shows, he’s had great experience playing around the world.

”I have watched him take free kicks and it’s ridiculous. I have never seen someone with technique like that, nine out of 10 times he’s hitting the top corner in training.

”He would be up there with the best players I have played with, certainly in terms of a striker, he’s so smart, his hold up play is ridiculous.”

Nabbout is expected to start on the wing against City with Toivonen central.

Having had a taste of Socceroos action at the highest level, Nabbout will be watching the upcoming World Cup qualifiers on Thursday night against Nepal and next week against Chinese Taipei.

“It’s always disappointing not to get the call-up but Arnie [Socceroos coach Graham Arnold] gave me a call last week and explained the situation and said that most of the European boys are in season and they are match-fit.

“He’s the boss and that’s his decision, I respect it, but I am ready for the call-up whenever he needs me.”

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