Former Melbourne Victory midfielder Rashid Mahazi is set for an A-League return with Western Sydney.When Rashid Mahazi waved goodbye to the A-League a year ago, he thought it was for good.
“I’m not stupid,” Melbourne-born Mahazi tells AAP ahead of his return with the Western Sydney Wanderers in Perth on Sunday.
“I knew that meant that it was a high chance that I would never play professional football again, but I was willing to take that risk at the time.”
Not only was he just 24 at the time, but he had just been part of a Melbourne Victory squad that lost the A-League decider to Sydney FC on penalties.
Mahazi was believed to have been pencilled in to come off the bench for Carl Valeri, but all plans were diverted when he suffered a pre-game migraine.
The defensive midfielder later revealed he had suffered an emotional breakdown following the death of his father.
Despite a number of reported offers on the table, Mahazi quit football indefinitely to keep a promise to his dad and return to his father’s homeland, Kenya.
“Every year my dad would go over for Christmas and every year I said, ‘I can’t go this year because obviously I’m in the middle of a season,” Mahazi recalls.
“And then last year I said to him, ‘I’m going to come with you this Christmas’. Unfortunately he wasn’t there, but the rest of us went.”
While he had planned to stay there six months, he ended up staying six weeks, meeting over 50 family members and catching up on lost time.
Some relatives he hadn’t seen since he was 11.
“It brought heaps of us closer, made my immediate family way closer,” he said.
“We’ve shared stuff that we haven’t before, had conversations we’ve never had. I’ve lived about five years of a normal crammed into six weeks.”
It was an emotional journey Mahazi knew he needed to experience, a time out of the game that prepared him for another shot at the A-League.
And perhaps even a dream international call-up with the Socceroos or the Kenyan national side, a door he has left open after the year that he’s had.
“I’m not closed to that option but at this time point in time it’s club first, and then is my country.
“It’s my home. has given me everything in my life so I told Kenya I don’t want to make a decision until I have to.”