Back in the A-League and back with Melbourne Victory, Andrew Nabbout says that he’s developed technically as a player thanks to his time in Japan.
The Melbourne-born attacker – who counts Brunswick City, Green Gully and Sunshine George Cross amongst his junior sides – was announced as the second signing of new Melbourne Victory Head Coach Marco Kurz last Thursday; following in the footsteps of fellow Socceroo Robbie Kruse.
A former member of the Victory Academy, 26-year-old Nabbout made 46 appearances across all competitions for the side before moving to Malaysian club Negeri Sembilan in late 2015.
He later returned to the A-League in 2016-17 with the Newcastle Jets and performed well enough – scoring 18 goals across 48 appearances – to earn a move to Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds and a spot in Bert van Marwijk’s Socceroos squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Nabbout, though, struggled to make his mark in Japan during the 2018-19 season; netting only once in 14 appearances across all competitions for Urawa and, with a new baby on the way, made the decision to move back to Melbourne for the 2019-20 season.
Speaking at AAMI Park today, Nabbout said he feels he’s improved technically thanks to his time in Japan.
“I’d like to think I’m a little bit better technically,” the attacker said.
“Obviously, you had to rise to a level over there that was going to keep you in the squad and the Japanese are very technically gifted. So, it was my job to adapt and rise to that level and I’d like to think that I have and I’m going to try to bring that back here and do as well as I can.
“It’s always tough going to a country like that where you know that it’s a very technical league and I’m a very physical player; I rely a lot on my power and my pressing and running in behind.
“They’re a lot about the technical side of the game, the kind of one-twos and the combinations. I just tried to adapt, take the most out of it, learn from the players I was playing with. Obviously, I was stuck with a few injuries but I came back from them and tried to rise to a level and get back as quick as possible.
“I’m trying to take what I learned there and bring it back here and hopefully I can pass that on to some of the younger boys as well.”
In a piece of serendipitous scheduling, Nabbout’s first opportunity for a competitive contest for Victory will come next week against former side Newcastle Jets in the FFA Cup’s Round of 32.
Though Nabbout previously told the Newcastle Jets club website that the Hunter-based club would be the first door he knocked on should he return to the A-League, Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna has confirmed that the Jets only became aware of the attacker’s imminent return to Australia on the night before his signing was announced.
However, though the Jets executive did also say that he would have loved to be able to enter negotiations with Nabbout, the club’s budgetary position would have prevented them from matching their Victorian rivals.
Nabbout, whose wife is expecting the couple’s first child – a son – in November, said that the interest from Victory, combined with family, made Melbourne his preferred choice.
“I spoke to my wife about it,” he explained.
“I figured it was the right time to come home because it’s not a small club, it’s a very big club and the manager was very interested in me.
“On top of that my wife’s expecting our first child in November so that was a very big part in coming back home. We’ve got a lot of support back here and, especially when I’m on away trips, she’s going to have a lot of support from her family and my family.”
Victory will clash with Newcastle on the final matchday of the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 next Wednesday night. It will be one of three all-A-League matches that night, with Sydney FC set to play Brisbane Roar in Robbie Fowler’s first game in charge and Perth Glory set to meet Western Sydney Wanderers.
NPL QLD side Brisbane Strikers will also host Wellington Phoenix and traditional footballing powers Melbourne Knights will host Adelaide United in the match of the night.
Tonight, Melbourne City – who dailyfootballshow.com yesterday revealed had reached an agreement to part ways with Mark Birighitti – will meet NPL SA side Campbelltown City, Central Coast Mariners will travel north up the New South Wales coast to take on NPL NNSW side Maitland FC and Victorian side Hume City will head to Canberra to take on Tigers FC.
Three former NSL sides will also take the field, with St George FC meeting Sydney United and Marconi making the trip to play South Hobart.