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Matured Arzani ripe for second bite of Socceroos cherry

The last time Daniel Arzani turned out in Australia's green-and-gold kit, Mile Jedinak was his captain, Bert van Marwijk was his coach and Socceroos legend Tim Cahill was still leading the line.

Six years on, a matured Arzani returns from the international wilderness to a barely recognisable Socceroos squad ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Palestine.

The mercurial winger has walked a rocky path to get back in the good graces of current national team boss Graham Arnold.

Plagued by injuries and bounced between fruitless loan spells in the lesser European leagues, Arzani has found a new lease on life under Tony Popovic at A-League Men finalists Melbourne Victory.

"The biggest takeaway for me working under the boss this season has been the mental side of the game," Arzani said.

While his attacking ability has never been in doubt, Arzani credits Popovic with helping turn him into a well-rounded footballer - improving his physicality to work harder off the ball, and his mental strength to be consistent week in, week out.

"I think it's incomparable. I've improved so much in different aspects of the game," Arzani said.

"My movement off the ball is much better, I'm much better defensively."

Although he is not mixing it with football's biggest names at the pinnacle of the world game - as many predicted when he burst on to the  scene as a teenager - the 25-year-old still has plenty of time left to fulfil his unquestionable potential.

Tim Cahill (left) and Daniel Arzani.
Tim Cahill (left) and Daniel Arzani were Australian teammates in the 2018 match against Peru. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

"There were definitely moments of not believing in myself and doubting myself," Arzani reflected.

"My biggest takeaway would be to enjoy the process and not be so harsh on myself.

"I think that's something I struggled with earlier in my career. Football was everything, and when things weren't going so well it kind of snowballed outside the pitch."

Reflecting on his own journey of growth, Arzani had some words of advice for Nestory Irankunda ahead of the 18-year-old prodigy's first Socceroos camp.

"I think the biggest thing is just being able to handle the pressure and being able to handle the highs and lows of a football career," Arzani said.

"This job is a roller-coaster. There's a lot of emotional highs and emotional lows. He's experienced a lot of that this year. To be consistent going forward is going to shape how his career is going to go."