After the nightmare of spending two months in a Thailand detention centre, Hakeem al-Araibi is ready to dream again and has set his sights on earning an A-League contract.
The 25-year-old, who played for Bahrain's youth national team before becoming embroiled in alleged political crimes, is currently with National Premier League Victoria club Pascoe Vale and was training behind bars to ensure he's fit for the coming season.
Deployed as a defender on the pitch, al-Araibi is planning to quit his other jobs which includes working as an Uber driver in order to follow his football dream and believes he has what it takes to make it in the A-League.
“I will try to work hard to play in the A-League," al-Araibi said.
"Because I saw people, I don’t think they are much better than me. I think I can play.
“I believe myself I have a big future, if I train hard, I will get it. Now I will work hard.
"I’m still 25, I have many years, maybe seven years to play."
With Australia ultimately playing a pivotal role in ensuring al-Araibi was released from Thai detention and not deported back to Bahrain, the refugee is eager to repay the country with citizenship another target for him.
“I will work hard now to do anything for Australia, not just for football but for the people, the government," he said.
“I’m still not a citizen of Australia, but I love Australia. Australia is my home. It’s a safe country.”