At just 17-years of age, young attacker Ramy Najjarine made the decision to back himself and move to Melbourne.
An alum of the famous Westfield Sports High in Sydney, Najjarine was taking a definite chance when he made the move down to Victoria.
A regular member of Australian U17 squads, the left-footed winger was already rated as one of the best prospects in the academy of Western Sydney Wanderers when he followed in the footsteps of childhood friend Daniel Arzani and accepted a scholarship contract offer from Melbourne City.
Beginning his tenure at Bundoora in the youth side of then-City academy boss Joe Palatsides, the attacker played a key role as City advanced to the final of the 2017/18 Y-League Grand Final – going down to Najjarine’s former side Western Sydney – before being handed his senior debut in a 15-minute cameo against Brisbane Roar in round five of the 2018/19 A-League season.
Despite not being given a starting opportunity by then-Head Coach Warren Joyce across his twelve subsequent appearances, the teenager laid down a hint of things to come when he capped off a scintillating, youth-driven 90th-minute goal in the final round of the season to consign Central Coast Mariners to a 5-0 defeat.
It was an impressive enough preview for Mariners gaffer Alen Stajčić to make a veiled hint at having designs on bringing the Young Socceroo to Gosford.
Any such thoughts, however, will now have to wait; an impressive pre-season that saw Najjarine force his way into the plans of new City boss Erick Mombaerts and start two FFA Cup fixtures rewarded mid-week with a contract extension that will keep him in Bundoora until the end of the 2021/22 season.
“I moved down [to Melbourne] by myself,” Najjarine recounted to FTBL when asked about his journey.
“Behind the scenes it was very hard, but I just adapted over the years and whatnot.
“I’m more independent now.
“[In the beginning] I was in contact with family every day. I had some close friends here and that helped me a lot, living with them – I was living with Arzani.
“Making the move I was just thinking about taking it a step at a time. When the offer came, I couldn’t say no.
“[When Arzani moved to Europe] I was able to move on. Obviously, we still keep in contact, but I was a bit older when he left and had adapted to the lifestyle here in Melbourne.
“I’ve got a couple of new fellas now, Joe Gauci and Moudi Najjar. And Connor’s [Metcalfe] moving as well. It’s good vibes back at the house.”
“I don’t regret anything that I’ve done.
“I’m thankful for the culture here, their faith in me and hopefully it’s just the start.”
Softly spoken and unassuming off the pitch, Najjarine’s potential to become one of the A-League’s next breakout youth stars on it is clear.
Bestowed with the honorific of being better than Arzani by none other than the man himself – a label that will follow him for quite some time for better or worse – Najjarine’s ability on the ball and sweet left peg have thus far only been seen in short glimpses; a lack of consistent senior minutes hampering his ability to find a rhythm.
However, hints by Mombaerts ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Adelaide United indicate that the opportunity for Najjarine to receive a maiden A-League start on the right flank of City’s attack may be in the offing.
“First and foremost is the team for me,” Najjarine said when asked about his role.
“I want to contribute and help the team win. We've got some very important games coming up in the next few weeks and hopefully, we can get some silverware.
“[Mombaerts is] top quality, the vibe around the dressing room shows that. We’re playing a very good style of football and, more importantly, we’re getting results as well, which I guess shows that it’s working.
“Erick’s a very detailed coach – a perfectionist. My style of play is very technical so hopefully improvement will keep showing at all levels.”