Awer Mabil reveals touching meaning behind goal celebration
Awer Mabil reveals touching meaning behind goal celebration

Touching meaning behind Mabil’s goal celebration

AWER Mabil knows it can be easy to feel alone, and he's witnessed the mental health battles of others.

So when the Socceroos forward was hanging out at home in Denmark with close friend and former FC Midtjylland teammate Pione Sisto - a fellow South Sudanese player - he decided he wanted to create something meaningful to raise awareness.

"I just came up with that," Mabil said. "From then on, ever since I scored I just did it."

But the 23-year-old had not spoken publicly about its meaning until now, preferring to wait until the right moment to reveal the mystery behind the unique gesture.

He picked that moment after scoring his fourth goal from seven caps in Wednesday's (ADT) 3-2 Asian Cup win over Syria, a result that sends Australia to the tournament's knockout stages.

The hand covering his mouth, he said, highlights that people suffering should talk about it.

The other hand, a peace sign between his eyes, signifies bringing peace to the mind.

"It's basically representing standing up for the people who are suffering from mental illness or depression," Mabil said.

"I want them to know that people do care for them and it's all in the mind. They need to find someone to talk to, and if I can create anything for them to be aware of and for people to see that people do suffer from this, I'm the first to put my hand up and that's why I created that.


"It's to basically show awareness for those people who are suffering from it. We are so lucky as football players to play football, but at the same time there's a lot of people also suffering from that."

Mental health is a cause close to his heart.

The former Adelaide United player has already spoken of football's power to "get rid of my traumas"as he spent his formative childhood years in difficult conditions at Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp.

Part of a tight-knit family, he alluded to struggling when he moved away from his mum and siblings to Denmark at 19 and spent the next three years finding his feet on loan at another club in the country and then Portugal before finally cracking the Midtjylland first team.

"It's easy to be alone, especially when you are in football, let's say you move from Australia to Europe or away from your family," Mabil said.

"It's easy to be isolated, but there's people out there who care for you. I have such a family-orientated club in Denmark, who helped me a lot, and I've seen a lot of people suffering from it. I'm there to offer myself to people if they need any kind of attention, I'll be there to guide them through whatever they need."

Mabil's goal was a stunner, an arcing left-footer from the top of the penalty area that sailed straight over the head of Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma and into the top corner.

As soon as it happened he sprinted to the dugout and jumped on coach Graham Arnold, who'd handed him his international debut against Kuwait last October.

"It was really nice," he said.

"But like I said last time, it's easy to score goals when the team is behind you. So for the front boys, it's something that's amazing.

"Chris (Ikonomidis) done well tonight, Tommy (Rogic) also on the scoresheet and making assists.

"It's really clicking for our team and we've got a lot to give and to learn from today's game. And we'll analyse that and carry onto the next game.

"It was fun to be out there. Great fans out there, great atmosphere. It was really good for us and a challenge that we really wanted, because you have to perform under pressure.

"We did that and we're carrying the momentum, especially from the last two games, into the knockout stage."

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