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How Aziz Behich went from an A-League outcast to Socceroos regular ahead of FIFA World Cup

From the rough streets of Melbourne to potential World Cup glory in Qatar: How proud Muslim Aziz Behich went from an A-League outcast to a Socceroos regular

  • Aziz Behich’s path to Socceroos stardom was different to many of his teammates
  • Originally Behich couldn’t secure a contract with Melbourne Victory as a striker
  • Converted into an attacking-left back, since enjoyed a storied career in Europe
  • Also poised for a second World Cup with Australia come November in Qatar 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

Growing up in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, Aziz Behich dared to dream bigger than most.

The left-back wanted to play for the Socceroos – and has done so, becoming a reliable and consistent figure for coach Graham Arnold in recent years.

He is widely tipped to be on the plane for Qatar to play in the World Cup come November – not bad for a bloke who was once only on the fringes of Melbourne Victory’s A-League squad- and played as a striker.

After cutting his football teeth at state league level with Green Gully, the proud Muslim man was eventually handed a chance at the elite level in 2009.

His teammates at the time included A-League legends Kevin Muscat and Archie Thompson.

But Behich truly arrived when agreeing to terms with Melbourne Heart – now Melbourne City – the following year.

Aziz Behich wanted to play for the Socceroos as a youngster – and has done so, becoming a reliable figure for coach Graham Arnold in recent years (pictured, in action against New Zealand recently)

Behich wears his heart on his sleeve and has become the first choice left-back for Australia (pictured, with Andrew Redmayne after beating Peru on penalties in June)

Behich wears his heart on his sleeve and has become the first choice left-back for Australia (pictured, with Andrew Redmayne after beating Peru on penalties in June)

With Turkish parents, securing a move to Bursaspor to play in the Super Lig was a proud family moment for the Behich family.

‘When I got the offer, it was a no-brainer for me,’ he recalled of the 2013 move.

‘Two years before I’d gone there, they’d won the league. They’d just played in the (UEFA) Champions League. They were one of the best clubs in the world.’

Further stints at PSV Eindhoven, İstanbul Başakşehir, Kayserispor and Giresunspor followed, as Behich continued to improve.

Fast forward to 2022 and Behich is the Socceroos’ first choice left-back, and if he gets the nod over the likes of Joel King and Jason Davidson, he is expected to start in Australia’s World Cup opener versus France on November 23.

Over the years, plenty of his club teammates have asked him why he chose Australia over Turkey for international football, especially when you consider his heritage.

But there was never any doubt who Behich – currently on the books of Premier League outfit Dundee United in Scotland – was going to play for.

Behich has already played at one World Cup (pictured, marking France's Paul Pogba in 2018 in Russia)

Behich has already played at one World Cup (pictured, marking France’s Paul Pogba in 2018 in Russia)

‘I always wanted to play for Australia; I grew up there, I started my football there. They gave my family a life,’ he told the ABC.

‘Even my dad said, ‘the best decision you made was playing for Australia.’ 

‘Australia gave us a chance. I’ve always felt like I had to give something back.’

His dad Yasar was a famous player himself in his heyday in North Cyprus – and Behich was desperate to emulate his hero as a youngster.

Given he is poised to play in his second World Cup – after also featuring in Russia four years ago – it is safe to say he has made his father proud.

Behich often uses the word grateful in interviews when speaking about his career and donning the Socceroos jersey on more than 50 occasions – not bad for a bloke who had ambitious dreams when honing his game as a kid in suburban Essendon and Broadmeadows.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk