THE biggest week in Andrew Nabbout’s footballing career is about to get even bigger.
On Monday Newcastle Jets confirmed they were releasing Nabbout, their leading goalscorer for the past two seasons, to sign with Japanese club Urawa Reds.
On Tuesday the dynamic 25-year-old is expected to be named in Australia’s preliminary squad for the 2018 World Cup, along with his former Newcastle teammate Dimi Petratos.
Nabbout told the Newcastle Herald it was “bittersweet” signing a two-year deal with Urawa and leaving the Jets, just as they are timing their runs into the finals.
“It’s very exciting, but obviously there are mixed emotions, as you can imagine,” Nabbout said.
“The finals are just around the corner, and it was a very proud moment to help the club make the finals for the first time in eight years.
“But I’m sure the boys will carry on really strongly and get to lift that trophy at the end of the season.
“For myself personally, this is something I’ve been working towards for a long time and it’s finally come for me.”
Nabbout said that if and when he returns to the A-League, he will be “banging down the door” of Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna.
“Lawrie is the one who resurrected my career [after being released by Melbourne Victory and a short stint in Malaysia],” he said. “Newcastle gave me the opportunity to be successful. That comes down to Lawrie and also Ernie Merrick as well. There is really no better coach to play for in this league.
“So if I come back to the A-League, Newcastle will definitely be my first stop.”
Nabbout said that apart from winning a grand final, his game-breaking goal in Sunday’s 2-1 win against Sydney was “pretty well the perfect way” to farewell Newcastle’s fans.
As for the prospect of possibly being part of a World Cup, the uncapped winger/striker said it was “something every player dreams of”.
Meanwhile, Jets officials are expected to appeal against a two-match ban imposed on striker Roy O’Donovan after his controversial send-off against Sydney.
O’Donovan was red-carded for striking Sydney defender Jordy Buijs but insisted the contact was accidental. McKinna said the club would accept a one-match ban but “definitely” challenge anything longer.
The match-review panel charged O’Donovan with “assault on a player”, for which the minimum sanction is two games.
O’Donovan was given until midday Tuesday to advise whether he intended to appeal.
Buijs, who was widely lambasted for his histrionics after the incident, escaped censure, despite television commentators declaring that he should have a case to answer for simulation.
Merrick said Buijs behaved “like a B-grade” actor.