Newcastle Jets winger Ali Abbas admitted he was overjoyed when he heard the news that the Iraqi national team wanted him back.
The 24-year old last played for his nation three years ago before he sought political asylum in Australia so he was very overwhelmed when he received a phone call saying they wanted him back.
“When Branko [Culina] rang me to tell me, I couldn't believe it,'' he told the SMH. ''I thought he was joking. This is a big surprise. I am so happy. I have spoken to my mother back in Iraq; my brothers, my friends, they are all so happy. It is hard for me to express my feelings in English, but this is a big, big moment for me. I am feeling really good right now.''
Back in 2007, Abbas, along with two teammates, snuck out of a hotel in Gosford while on tour with the Iraq U23 national team so he was surprised to get the call-up but admitted he took measures to give himself a chance.
“I never gave up hope of getting back into the national team,'' Abbas added. ''I always thought I would have a chance, but I know if I had not gone back to Baghdad, this would not have happened. I cleared everything up, and that is why the door stayed open.”