JETS livewire Ali Abbas plans to work towards reuniting his family in Australia after officially becoming an Australian citizen.
Abbas completed the citizenship test and paperwork just before Christmas and the formalities will be finalised on Australia Day when he takes the oath of allegiance.
The Iraqi-born attacking midfielder’s mother, five brothers and three sisters remain in Baghdad.
In 2007 Abbas’s father died when a suicide bomber struck a car in downtown Baghdad, killing all the occupants.
Understandably Abbas is keen to relocate the rest of his family in Australia.
‘‘I would love to bring them here, but obviously it’s pretty hard to get a visa,’’ Abbas said. ‘‘I will work for it and hopefully I can get them here.’’
Abbas has lived in Australia since 2007 when he skipped out of a Gosford hotel while on tour with the Iraqi under-23 team to seek political asylum.
‘‘It is my dream and I worked very hard for it and thank God I made everything right and I have a better life than I did before,’’ he said.
‘‘When I came here I thought I wouldn’t play soccer again and I worked really hard and hopefully I can continue to be successful.’’
In order to become naturalised Abbas studied the nation’s history, laws and culture.
He joked that he now has more knowledge than his Aussie Jets teammates about their own country.
‘‘I learnt who was the first prime minister of Australia and when Federation took place,’’ he said.
‘‘I had to learn everything. I did a lot of study.’’
During his two-year stint in the A–League with Newcastle Abbas has also received a thorough footballing tuition.
‘‘In the Middle East they play just with the ball, not without the ball,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve been here almost three years and I’ve improved my game without the ball and become more physical here.
‘‘I’ve done my best to make my body a little bigger.’’
The next challenge facing Abbas could indeed be his most difficult, as his two-year contract at the Jets expires at the end of the season.
This season Abbas, has been far from a mainstay of the Jets starting XI.
He has started twice, both times against Melbourne Heart, and played off the bench nine times – most recently in Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
‘‘I’d love to stay here but if I don’t have an opportunity I’ll have to look elsewhere for an opportunity,’’ he said.
‘‘I want to stay in the A-League, because to be honest, it gets more professional every year.’’