17/04/2024

Ramy Najjarine is one of a handful of Wanderers still in the squad from last season. (Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers FC; Design: Will Cuckson)

Western Sydney’s Ramy Najjarine is one of just a handful of players which the club retained after a disastrous 2021/22 A-League Men season.

This campaign is a full scale reset, with 19 new faces walking through the doors. It’s working so far, with the Wanderers just one of two clubs to win their first two matches.

Both their games have been – by their own admission – not their best football. But with six points under their belt, they’re yet to give up a goal this season, which only Macarthur has matched.

The likes of Gabriel Cleur, Sulejman Krpic, Calem Nieuwenhof and Romain Amalfitano have added a different look across every line of coach Marko Rudan’s XI.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, Najjarine has already noticed the change within the club.

“It’s [been] a bit different because we have a lot of new faces around the club,” the young forward said.

“We brought in a lot of experience and quality players. It will take a bit of time for us to gel… but I thought we’ve done really well and worked extremely hard to get good result[s].”

One of the players that has provided the spark within the group according to Najjarine has been Cleur, who returns to the Wanderers after being a part of the youth set-up.

He spent six years playing for Serie C club Virtus Entella in Italy, with stints on loan to Robur Siena and Alessandria.

The 24-year-old full back was one of the Wanderers’ best in the win over Perth Glory, assisting Krpic’s goal, and creating three chances from his six passes into the final third.

“[Cleur’s] workrate is unbelievable to be honest, he works up and down the pitch,” Najjarine said.

“He’s hard to get a hand on. He’s been really good for us. Hope he continues his form.”

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One of the big stories of the A-League Men off-season was the move of league veteran Milos Ninkovic from Sydney FC across town.

The 37-year-old started his career in Australia in 2015, making 181 appearances in sky blue and becoming not only a fan favourite, but one of the greats of the league.

It was no surprise that there was uproar in the Harbour City when it was announced he would be pulling on the red and black in 2022/23.

As a fellow winger, Najjarine has been learning plenty from his experienced teammate.

“For me, [Ninkovic] has been incredible to be honest, on and off the pitch,” he said.

“The way he’s still playing at his age, the way he looks after his body off the field… he’s just a quality player in general. I try to take what I can from his game and apply it to mine.

“He’s been good to me, he’s shown me tips and tricks about the game. I’m really glad he’s in our team.”

Najjarine’s path back to the Wanderers is one that’s reinvigorated his own young career, after spending three seasons with Melbourne City, one of which saw him loaned out to the Newcastle Jets.

Spending much of his first year playing for City’s NPL team, he’s already made more appearances for the Wanderers in just over a season.

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Growing up as a Western Sydney local, he’s finding his feet after a hard time spent away from home early in his professional career.

“It was a bit of a challenge for me, because I [left Sydney] real young,” Najjarine explained.

“The environment was a big change for me, in terms of a professional team like Melbourne City. I’m grateful for what they’ve done for me, and I’ve learnt a lot.

“It means a lot [being back at the Wanderers]. It is my hometown club, I grew up watching the Wanderers and supporting them. It’s a pretty big deal for me to play for the club.”

Najjarine and the Western Sydney Wanderers host the Brisbane Roar at CommBank Stadium on Saturday, October 22, kicking off a string of three home games.

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