The life of the young Australian footballer is often a mixed bag of A-League appearances, European trials and big dreams. Making it into the cut-throat export of modern football, especially in the homeland of Europe is a challenge for even the best European talents, let alone a teenager growing up in Sydney’s West.
At 17, Mustafa Amini left home to go trial and eventually sign a four year deal with European footballing giant, Bourssia Dortmund. Catching the eye of a world-class coach in Jurgen Klopp, a feat itself; Amini, a young talented midfielder from Sydney secured himself a chance some players would only dream of.
“He’s always telling me don’t dream already, just work for it and dream latter, it’s all about just working hard and taking chances,” Mustafa reflects on his Dortmund experiences to The TURF.
Football had always been a central part in Mustafa’s life. Born to an Afghan father and a Nicaragua mother and growing up in Western Sydney, naturally football was to be his chosen pass-time. Playing as a teenager at Blacktown City before heading to the Australian Institute of Sport and signing a two-year deal with Central Coast, big things were installed for the young Amini.
“At Central Coast everything was good for me. Unfortunately Patricio Pérez got injured, which gave me a spot to play in his position. I played some good football, I got young player of the month so everything was good. We made it to the final and we won the premiership. It was a good year.”
And when a call from Germany came through, a trial at Dortmund was too good not to pass up.
“I actually didn’t know who Dortmund was at the time,” Mustafa chuckles, “Later we went to a home game and that was when I fell in love with the club. I couldn’t believe what I saw, the stadium, there were 80,000 people going nuts.”
“The next day I started training and my first session was with the second team. Klopp was watching then he came and told me that in the afternoon I was training in the first team. I was talking to my agent thinking, what the hell am I going to do there?”
Mustafa continued trialling with Dortmund in the first squad, before being called into the Young Socceroos camp and then returning to finish off his trail at BVB.
“We had a practice game, I played as a defensive midfielder. Klopp said he liked what he saw and then went up stairs and told me, we want you.”
“It was amazing, a coach like Jurgen Klopp directly going up stairs after two weeks and telling me he wants me, I was really happy to hear that.”
Mustafa had gone from being a little known youngster from Blacktown to Dortmund’s brightest new recruit. However, the road hasn’t always been easy as he’s quick to point out. Mustafa was loaned back to the Mariners for a year until making the moving in 2012 and finally getting regular game time with the Dortmund second team last year.
“I played 14 games with the seconds last season (12/13). I started late that year because of the under 20 World Cup, missing the first three or four games, scored a goal in my opening game and after that I was a starting 11 player. I’ve already played another 16 so far this season.”
Since he was 15, Mustafa found his way into junior national teams, featuring in all the Junior Socceroos squads and was selected for the 2011 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia, an experience that Amini can only describe as ‘unbelievable’.
“Playing at international was unbelievable, I was 2 years younger than everyone else at that stage. I was playing well and think I copped pretty well too.”
“You see the difference with the quality when Australia played against Spain, who we lost 5-1 against. You see with Spain, they [players] might not being playing, but they’re training with teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, they live and breath football where in Australia it’s not the same.”
But despite this disadvantage, Amini’s clearly made up for it in his experiences at the Champions League. Although not making it onto the field yet, a call up to the bench when Dortmund played Manchester City was a lesson in itself.
“It was unbelievable during the group stages, I was called up onto the bench against Man City and that was an amazing experience for me. I didn’t get on the field, but just being on the bench and getting to see the 80,000 people, playing against likes of Balotelli, Aguero and seeing them right in front of you was amazing.”
Like all athletes, a fall from grace at the hands of injury is always a possibility and falling victim to a tendon injury late last year has since sidelined Amini indefinitely. An injury that’s put him on the back foot just as he was beginning to break into the first team.
“I was on the bench for the German Cup, I was getting there, getting there and then this injury happened. I guess that’s apart of being a footballer and dealing with the injury. I just have to start all over again, get fit and get back into getting back there again.”
“For football you’ll do what you know and in the end if the real prize comes, it’s a dream come true.”