EXCLUSIVE: Nabbout on his Caltex Socceroos dreams and Ernie Merrick's influence
Once a Hyundai A-League outcast, Andrew Nabbout's career has exploded to new heights in a life-changing few days.
The free-scoring forward began the weekend with a superb winner in front of more than 18,000 fans to help a 10-man Newcastle Jets beat league leaders Sydney FC.
It proved a fitting farewell to McDonald Jones Stadium as two days later the 25-year-old confirmed a coveted move to Japanese giants Urawa Red Diamonds.
And a whirlwind 72 hours ended with the "massive honour" of a place in the Caltex Socceroos' preliminary 29-man squad for this month's friendlies against Norway and Colombia.
Speaking as part of our 'Extra Time' series, Nabbout said it was hard not to be swept up by the excitement of potentially joining Bert van Marwijk's inaugural Australia camp.
"On top of all the other emotion that's been going through me in the last couple days, it's huge," he told a-league.com.au.
"It's something I've dreamed about since I was a young kid. Something I've worked towards my whole career.
"Now for it to come to reality it's a huge honour, I'm very privileged to be named in that squad.
"The hard work is only just starting so there's a lot of work to do for me to improve and it's exciting."
The recognition is a reward for an exceptional return of 10 goals and seven assists in 22 games.
His brilliant form softened the blow of Roy O'Donovan's early-season injury, which left Newcastle without a recognised centre-forward between November and February.
"I knew I had a big responsibility because Roy's an unbelievable striker," Nabbout said.
"I studied his movements, and a lot of the movements of strikers around the world, to get a gist of where I was supposed to be going.
"It worked out well, I got used to the role fairly quickly.
"It was tough at times but you just have to be very patient and I learnt to become patient in those times."
Nabbout, who was released by Melbourne Victory in 2015, is quick to heap praise on Jets boss Ernie Merrick for helping unlock his potential.
The Scot took over in the off-season and instituted an exciting, free-flowing brand of football that has transformed the wooden spooners into Sydney FC's nearest challengers.
"He's been one of the biggest factors in putting me on the right path to success," said Nabbout.
He added: "I thought last year I had an okay season but this year it's taken my game to a new level."
"That's because of him, that's because of the mentality he's brought and the freedom he's given us to express ourselves.
"It's a little disappointing I won't be here to finish what we started but it's an opportunity I had to take up.
"We're in a very good position. Hopefully we can maintain that and push for the Grand Final and for the Asian Champions League next year."
That prospect could make for a sooner-than-expected reunion with his now former team-mates.