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Refugee soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi returns home to Melbourne after Thailand ordeal

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Refugee soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi has thanked Australia for its support after arriving home in Melbourne.

Al-Araibi was swamped by relatives, friends and strangers as he emerged through the international arrivals on Tuesday.

He spent more than two months in a Thai prison as Bahrain tried to get him extradited over apparent vandalism offences, claims al-Araibi denies.

The refugee has been a vocal critic of torture in Bahrain.

Al-Araibi pledged his love for Australia following an international social media campaign to #SaveHakeem.

And the 25-year-old has already put his hand up to play for Pascoe Vale this Thursday.

“I think we’ll just give him a break this week to spend some time with his wife,” Lou Tona, chairman of the club, told 3AW Drive.

“Our main priority, right now, is his mental health.

“Mine has taken a bit of a beating and I’ve been here in my comfortable bed with my beautiful family.

“So I can only imagine what he and his wife have been through.”

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