For Mustafa Amini the Caltex Socceroos’ AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign is going to be like going back in time.
This time seven years ago Amini was plying his trade as a fresh-faced midfielder in the Hyundai A-League for Graham Arnold’s Central Coast Mariners.
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Alongside him were current Caltex Socceroos teammates Tom Rogic, Maty Ryan and Trent Sainsbury and speaking at the squad announcement on Thursday Amini spoke fondly of his time at the Mariners.
“The A-League is massive for every young player, it’s a stepping stone to go overseas,” Amini told socceroos.com.au
“It helped me, it helped Trent Sainsbury. Having Arnie there also, we had a minimum wage squad and we ended up getting the Premiership.
“It was an amazing achievement and as you see from those players now, Rogic, Trent and myself being selected in this squad it’s a great honour and Maty Ryan of course!”
The 25-year old has developed to become a key player for Danish Superliga side AGF Aarhus and said being named in Arnold’s 23-man squad was just reward for all the hard work.
“It’s my seventh year coming onto my eighth year in Europe, I’ve learned a lot and being alone, just the fight you have to do to get to the top and it’s all worth it to be in this Asian Cup,” he said.
“I’m very happy playing in Denmark, it’s a physical league, we play against some big teams, FC Copenhagen.. I’m playing week in week out so I’m very happy.”
While no stranger for Caltex Socceroos’ squads it was only recently that Amini made his starting debut against Lebanon in November.
The former Borussia Dortmund player said it was an honour to play alongside the current squad, praising them as the ‘best’ he’s ever played with.
“It was a dream come true since I was a young boy to start for your national team,” he said.
“I’ve been on the bench a few times but to get that start that Arnie gave me and to sing the national anthem holding the boys next to me and having my family in the crowd was a remarkable experience and a dream come true.
“I can tell you the squad atmosphere is probably the best squad I’ve been part of, it’s a nice family. Everyone’s good, everyone’s helpful and everyone’s there to make each other better.”