Friday Jun 17, 2022. 11:00
Kenyan-born Awer Mabil says his key penalty which helped earn Australia a place at the 2022 World Cup was a thank you to the country which took his family in as refugees.
Mabil was part of the Socceroos team which defeated Peru on penalties in an inter-continental playoff tie earlier this week.
The 26-year-old scored Australia’s sixth spot kick, allowing goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne to save the South Americans’ final penalty and secure a fifth successive qualification for the World Cup for Australia.
Mabil, set to be a part of the Socceroos set-up at Qatar 2022, was born in a refugee camp in Kenya after his parents fled conflict in Sudan.
His family re-settled in Australia in 2006 and the young winger kick-started his professional career with Adelaide United as a teenager.
He has gone on to represent Campbelltown City, Adelaide, FC Midtjylland, Esbjerg, Pacos de Ferreira and Kasimpasa, while also collecting almost 30 caps for Australia’s senior men’s national team.
“I knew I was going to score. It was the only way to say thank you to Australia on behalf of my family,” Mabil is quoted by BBC Sport.
“I was born in a hut, a little hut. My hotel room here is definitely bigger than the hut, the room we had as a family in that refugee camp.
“For Australia to take us in and resettle us, it gave me and my siblings and my whole family a chance at life.
“That’s what I mean by thanking Australia for that chance of life, that chance of opportunity they allowed my family.”
Mabil is hopeful that his achievements will inspire other refugees to reach for their dreams.
“I scored, a lot of my team-mates scored, everybody played a part and maybe that refugee kid played a big part,” he concluded.