Abdulla Al-Kalisy has certainly taken an interesting path to land at Southern United, according to Otago Daily Times.
The 22-year-old livewire has netted two goals in as many weeks for the club, the latest in a long list of stops in a hectic life.Tomorrow he plays against his most recent former team, Tasman United, at Sunnyvale Park.
But it was in his earliest years that his life of globetrotting began.
Originally from Iraq, his family came to New Zealand to get away from the troubles his home country was experiencing.
"We were looking to find somewhere and New Zealand’s probably the furthest place from the trouble," Al-Kalisy said.
"It was a decision my parents made. I was too young to remember what was happening at the time.
"We first went to Malaysia and [my parents] went to Romania and we finally settled in New Zealand.
"I’m glad we did. It’s a beautiful country."He was still young — about 5 or 6 — when the family returned to the Middle East.
However, this time they settled in Dubai where his parents still live.That was not before having obtained dual citizenship in New Zealand, which would be useful in later years.
It was a "different world" there and football began to figure largely in Al-Kalisy’s life about the age of 10.
"In the Middle East, they take football very seriously. It’s a big culture.
"I’m really glad. It’s one of those things you play all day everyday.
"You have a pick-up game in the street, you go to training and then you come back and play some more."
That time spent playing led him the United States where he spent two years playing youth football.
He then headed across the Atlantic for short stints in the United Kingdom and Croatia.
At the same time he was involved with the Iraq under-23 team in its preparations for the Rio Olympics.
However, when he did not make the final team and things did not work out in Europe, his adopted home came calling.
He spent a year at Auckland City, before moving south to Tasman and then all the way south to Southern.
"I think I was a little less mature when I made the move and I was a bit upset things didn’t work out in Europe, because it’s Europe — everyone wants to play there.
"I’d just missed out on going to the Olympics with Iraq, so I was a bit bitter.
"But in hindsight I’m really glad I’ve come down. It’s a beautiful country, the football’s been great. I’ve had a few injuries but that’s football.
"There’s very few places you can come and have this kind of lifestyle and enjoy the football equally as well."
He had trained with the All Whites under Anthony Hudson, although left to join the Iraq under-23 team again.
That was with the goal of playing in Asian Cup. However, a last-minute foot injury ruled him out of that tournament.
Today’s game will go ahead at Sunnyvale Park at 1pm as scheduled.
However, the week’s rain has meant the national women’s league game against WaiBOP has been transferred to Forrester Park at 11am tomorrow.
The national youth league team plays at Tahuna Park at 2pm today.