It’s five years to the day since Australia sealed its place in the 2006 World Cup with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Uruguay and, as the nation reflects on one of the defining moments of its sporting history, the future of football could not be brighter.
The fallout from that appearance in Germany, as well as subsequent appearances in top international competitions, has been a growth in the sport’s popularity, resulting in hot prospects such as Mustafa Amini of the Central Coast Mariners.
The 17 year old was born in Sydney in 1993 to an Afghan father and a mother of Nicaraguan descent, and speaks fluent Spanish and Persian.
Having come through the Australia Institute of Sport (AIS), Amini signed a two year deal with the Mariners, becoming the youngest ever earner in the A-League at just 16 years od age.
“Mustafa is such an exciting youngster who has been very impressive for the AIS this season, and we are delighted to have secured his services for the next two seasons, as we look to continue to mould our squad with the right mix of youth and experience,” said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman at the time of the signing.
With his distinctive afro haircut, quick feet and great technique, Amini looks and acts the part in the role of a flamboyant number 10, and Mariners boss Graham Arnold had no hesitations about throwing the youngster in at the deep end.
Amini made his A-League debut on 20 October 2010 as a replacement for injured marquee player Patricio Perez in their clash with the Brisbane Roar and has been in the side ever since.
As well as finding his feet in the country’s top division, Amini is also getting used to football at international level and was a key member of Australia’s 2010 AFF U-19 Youth Championship winning team, scoring in the 4-1 win over Vietnam.
He was also involved in the recent 2010 AFC U-19 Championships where the young Socceroos went down to South Korea in the final.
With a large proportion of the current national side coming to the end of their Australian careers, the likes of Amini, Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht) and Mathew Leckie (Adelaide United) will be expected to step up and fill the rather large void left.
“My ambition is to keep playing A-League regularly and keep doing well and then hopefully go overseas and play over there,” says Amini.
“But I need to work on the physical side of my game, like speed and fitness. I still have a lot to learn.”
Amini names Harry Kewell and Steven Gerrard as two of his idols, and if he can go some way to matching either of their achievements then the future of the Socceroos is in good hands.