With his club, FC Midtjylland, currently on a mid-season break, former Red and undeniable fan-favourite, Awer Mabil, has returned to his former home and took the time to speak with Adelaide United about life and his time with the Danish Champions.
Ever since Awer Mabil burst onto the Hyundai A-League scene as a teenager, the Australian football world stopped and took notice.
A couple of years down the track, Mabil is a proud footballer of Denmark’s Danish Superliga Champions, FC Midtjylland after starting out in some of the most humble of beginnings right here in South Australia and Adelaide United.
“Adelaide United means so much to me, but I had to consider the offer (from FC Midtjylland) when it came through and whether it would be right for me at the time,” Mabil said.
“In the end I realised that (FC Midtjylland) was definitely good for me to continue my development and they have given me the chance to keep chasing my dreams.”
Dreams. Dreams that were created when Mabil was nothing but a starry-eyed child who just wanted to play football because it was his way of expression, his way of a release from a difficult childhood. But, like every kid who just wants to play some football, the dream quickly expands into a vast chamber of possibilities whereby a life could be manufactured from it.
Yet you can’t just expect it to happen overnight because it takes countless hours of practice, dedication, commitment, things Mabil had, and still has, in spades. However his humility has kept him grounded, as he refuses to forget the roots through which he blossomed whilst part of United’s Youth Team and then part of the first team set up.
“United started everything for me, and without the foundation that was built around me here, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” Mabil explained.
“I have to thank everyone for their support and guidance, but Josep (Gombau), and the Youth Team coaches, Michael Valkanis and Angelo Costanzo, were all very important in my development.
“Michael and Ange in particular have had a big effect on me, but also on a lot of the young players that are coming up and pushing for a spot in the first team, so I want to thank them a lot because they do a really good job.”
Mabil’s start to life in Denmark wasn’t without its difficulties, though, as the heavily family orientated 20-year-old initially found it difficult to be away from his loved ones. But despite his homesickness, Mabil found comfort in the family nature of Midtjylland, which made him feel welcome straight away, and with a steadily increased amount of playing time, the pressure on the youngster eventually eased.
“At first, missing my family and friends was hard, of course, but Midtjylland is like a family and they’ve made me feel very welcome and part of their family.
“I’ve met some really good people and to be welcomed the way I was welcomed makes me feel really lucky to be part of their club.
“When I finally made my debut, I felt a lot of pressure leave me and I could just focus on working hard and continuing to make appearances.
“I know I just have to work hard and play the way I know I can play football, and give my all for my team to help them win and continue to be successful.”
Mabil and Midtjylland are now in preparation for their UEFA Europa League knock-out fixture with English Premier League giants, Manchester United, the club Mabil has supported since he was a child.
“As a club, we’ll go to Dubai in January for a training camp before going back to Denmark for our next Europa League game against Manchester United.
“That in itself, I couldn’t believe. We were joking around after our last Europa game that we were going to get Man United, and then it happened and it was crazy. I couldn’t stop smiling.
“It would be a dream come true to play against them because I supported them as a kid and now I’m going to do absolutely everything possible to make sure I am selected.”
And even though the lights of Old Trafford are in complete contrast to those of Coopers Stadium, Mabil has continued to watch his Reds, saying he’ll do so for many more years to come and revealing he’ll be in attendance for United’s next home match against Wellington Phoenix on 26 December.
“I’ve been watching Adelaide play and it obviously wasn’t a good start to the season, but the Reds will always have a place in my heart and I’ll always follow them. I’d even be in the Red Army if they’d have me.
“I’m excited because I’ll be able to come to the next home game at Coopers on the 26th of December and I hope to see a lot of familiar faces there.”