Even before former Fairfield West resident Ramy Najjarine made his A-League debut on Saturday night against the Brisbane Roar he had to shoulder – a reconstructed shoulder at that – a lot of expectation.
In the week leading into the game Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce paid the 18-year-old the ultimate compliant.
“To be fair to Ramy (Najjarine), before he did his shoulder last year, he was in front of [Daniel] Arzani. Hopefully we can get him back to his level last season,” he said.
Arzani's head-turning performances at the World Cup in Russia helped glean him a high-profile move to Manchester City before joining fellow Socceroo Tom Rogic at Celtic on a two-year loan.
He is currently recovering after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during his senior debut for Scottish side Celtic.
Najjarine knows a thing or two about recovery. He spent six months recovering from a torn labrum and rotator cuff which robbed him of an A-League debut last year.
The former Westfields Sports High School student is making up for lost time this year – and playing the closing stages in City’s 2-0 loss on Saturday is just the start.
While the result wasn’t ideal, he told the club’s website it was a “proud” moment to make his senior debut after three previous stints on the bench – including the corresponding fixture last year.
“I believe in myself ...that’s the biggest reason I am back to where I was,” he said.
“I saw a lot of young boys got their opportunity and took it like Daniel Arzani and Nathaniel [Atkinson] and I thank the coaching staff for giving me a chance.
“I like to thank the people who helped me along the way and hopefully there is much more to come.
“I want to do much more. I really think I can make an impact Hopefully we get back to winning ways and go for the title.”
After returning from injury in June, Najjarine hasn’t lost his appetite for scoring goals.
He netted from the spot in the Young Socceroos 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Shizuoka Selection during the SBS Cup in August.
He backed that up with a super strike from the edge of the box to salvage a point for the Young Socceroos against the Korea Republic in the AFC Under-19 Championships.