Rockdale Ilinden star signing Moudi Najjar says the club’s offseason pursuit of his signature has given him the boost he needed as he returns to Australian football.
The 23-year-old former Australian Youth International was without a club when he departed A-Leagues side Macarthur FC in mid-2023 following spells with Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers in his youth.
That all changed in the offseason when Najjar got a phone call while he was in Turkey searching for a club from Rockdale Ilinden assistant coach Nick Stavroulakis.
“I heard from Nick, and he said ‘I heard you were looking for a place… Let me get on the phone to Paul Dee’,” Najjar said.
“Honestly, within not even a couple of minutes, I got a phone call from Paul Dee, which was pretty decent in my eyes.
“It just went from there really; it was all a quick process.”
Najjar said Dee’s eagerness to sign him and his outlay of the Ilinden project convinced him to sign for the ambitious club.
“It was a matter of them really wanting me, so it made me appreciate it,” Najjar said.
“It made me feel good again.
“When a coach wants you, that means you know you bring value to the team. It was a big thing for me, and it was a no-brainer.
“It gives a lot of boost and it just helps performance overall. I think any player will tell you this, but when you’re confident, then good things happen, and the way it’s going at the moment, it’s looking very promising.”
Ilinden were already stacked with attacking talent, including 2023 Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner and captain Alec Urosevski, as well as former Sydney FC striker Bai Antoniou.
The club has also agreed to terms with ex-Manly United ace Hunter Elliott, former St George City midfielder Dean Pelekanos and big bustling striker Yinka Sunmola who wore the Mt Druitt Town Rangers kit last year year.
The Speranza brothers Giorgio and Roberto have made the move from the Marconi Stallions to Ilinden in a massive coup for the club while another quality attacker in Mabior Garang has also made the move.
Najjar said he can add another layer to Ilinden’s attacking unit, however, the frontline are all combining with each other rather than standing out as individuals.
“I’m definitely bringing in speed in attack,” he said.
“Whoever scores on the day – that’s good. As long as we get the win.
“We’ve all got our own way of scoring, and at the moment, in preseason, we’re all scoring and assisting each other, which is a great combo.”
Training at Rockdale has been professional, according to Najjar, and he said he is confident the team are in good shape to go all the way.
Ilinden missed out on the NPL Men’s NSW title in 2023, finishing six points behind APIA Leichhardt, but Najjar said he can give the runners-up the edge this time around.
He also said he is personally targeting the competition golden boot mantle currently held by his captain.
“Obviously, I want to get some goals and assists,” Najjar said.
“Overall, I want to win, to be honest, and get the team their trophy.
“I think we will be very hard to beat this year.
“I really believe that we’ve got it this year.”
Rockdale Ilinden start their 2024 NPL Men’s NSW campaign with an away clash against local rivals St George City at Peakhurst Park on Saturday 17th of February (7:15pm).
St George City were the surprise package of last season’s competition, finishing fifth as a newly promoted outfit.
-By Tim Gibson