Australia striker Andrew Nabbout says his former coach Ernie Merrick is the man who helped propel him into the World Cup 2018 squad.
Merrick took over as Newcastle Jets coach a year ago, with the three previous coaches of the club having only lasted one season.
He inherited a team that had just finished bottom of the A-League, but the transformation he brought about at the Jets led to great things for the team and for Nabbout.
Merrick helped turn Nabbout, who had been released by his previous two clubs, into a player who earned a move to Urawa Reds in the J-League and then his first call-up to the Socceroos.
Australia coach Bert van Marwijk looks set to use the 25-year-old in the team's opening Group C clash against France, having started him in his last four friendlies.
Nabbout, who scored his first international goal in the pre-tournament 4-0 win over Czech Republic, said playing under Merrick at Newcastle had made him a better player.
He'd previously been cast off by both Melbourne Victory and Malaysian side Negeri Sembilan.
"I wouldn't say there were turning points, there was just constant gradual build-up to this and obviously there are some setbacks in everyone's career," said Nabbout. "But I think the moment that propelled me was Ernie coming in and taking me to the next level."
He said the type of pressing game van Marwijk is getting the Socceroos to play suits him well.
"It's a similar kind of style that we played when I was at Newcastle, that counter-attacking kind of football," added Nabbout. "That's where I try to exploit teams and get in behind and try to force an error from defenders."
Australia are 11/1 to win their opening World Cup 2018 game against France, who are 1/4 with the draw 6/1. The Socceroos are 25/1 to win 1-0.
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