Andrew Nabbout’s remarkable career resurrection shows no signs of slowing down after he was named the Professional Footballers Australia player of the month for January.
The Newcastle Jets cast Nabbout a lifeline when he was cut by Malaysian second-division club Negeri Sembilan in June, despite being their leading scorer.
Six months later, the 24-year-old winger is being mentioned as a bolter for the Socceroos after scoring seven goals in 15 games for Newcastle.
Nabbout played under Ange Postecoglou when he started his A-League career at Melbourne Victory in 2012, and he is the direct, athletic type of winger the Socceroos coach prefers.
“He actually signed me at Victory. I made my debut under him. I’m familiar with Ange. I know his coaching style. He’s very demanding, and that’s what I like,” Nabbout said after training on Tuesday.
“I’ve always said the best place to be is where expectations are high, and his expectations are very high.
“He’s very attacking. He likes players to go in behind and run at people. I love that. I try to do that as much as I can in the game, and hopefully I can do it at the level he’s expecting and compete with the players that are in those positions.
“At the moment I have to be the best in my position in the league.”
Nabbout can already make a case for being the best Australian in his position in the league.
His goal tally is way ahead of Brisbane’s Tommy Oar (1), Central Coast’s Connor Pain (1), Melbourne City’s Bruce Kamau (0), Melbourne Victory’s Mitch Austin (3), Perth’s Chris Harold (1) and Adelaide’s Ben Garuccio (1).
In fact, his closest competition by that reckoning is teammate Andrew Hoole, who has five goals in 17 games.
Nabbout said he had received no contact “yet” from the Socceroos coaching staff.
“I’m really happy to be mentioned in that category, but I have to continue my form throughout the season to even get a sniff.
“It’s obviously a massive dream for me, but at the moment I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground and not think about it so much, because then it just adds a bit of unnecessary pressure.
“But it’s always nice to be recognised by people in that category, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be on the radar at the end of the season.”
Nabbout’s January included a goal in a 3-2 win over Brisbane, another in a 2-2 draw with Perth and a match-winning double against City in Coffs Harbour.
He described the player-voted PFA award as a “huge honour”.
“It’s a real proud and happy moment. To be recognised by my teammates and my opponents is massive. I’m stoked.”
Nabbout said when he signed with Newcastle in July that he had a point to prove in the A-League after being released by Victory in late 2015 and overlooked by other Australian clubs.
“If you look 12 months ago . . . it was hard for every club to pick that I’d be playing well, but I’m really happy with the opportunity to be playing here,” he said on Tuesday.
“Asia’s a very roller-coaster-like experience. Some players go there and do really well; some players not so well.
“Players go there, they do really well, they make a lot of money, but ultimately I wanted to be playing a lot of football, so I came back here and it’s working.
“I’ve brought back what I learned over there with me. The rest is history.”