Awer Mabil and his Midtjylland will be playing in the UEFA Champions League for the first time after they overcame Slavia Prague 4-1 in the second leg playoff on Thursday morning.
Mabil’s childhood dream of Champions League football became a reality overnight as he helped Danish club Midtjylland qualify for the group stage for the first time in its history.
It was the Socceroos winger who spearheaded his side’s revival after his threatening cross teed up Sory Kaba and opened the floodgates for the Danish champions after they fell behind to an early Prague goal.
The latest milestone in his career caps off what has been an inspirational story which began when he was born in a Kenyan refugee camp 25 years ago.
He arrived in Australia as an 11-year-old and his rise since featuring for Adelaide United in the A-League has been phenomenal.
From helping his hometown club to secure the FFA Cup to scoring on his Socceroos debut in 2018, Mabil’s story has been like a dream.
It all hit home for the 25-year-old this morning with the raw emotion there for all to see when he fell to the pitch in disbelief after his side weighed in with their fourth goal of the evening.
He will now have the chance to rub shoulders with the footballing elite as he and his side embark on their latest challenge – the UEFA Champions League group stage.
However, it was not all smooth sailing for the Danish outfit with Prague going ahead after just three minutes in this morning’s do-or-die clash.
The visitors dominated proceedings and appeared to be on course to qualify for the group stage before Mabil stepped up to alter the script in his side’s favour.
He was on hand to assist Kaba for the equaliser after his cross from the left wing picked out his teammate, who headed home at the far post in the 65th minute.
With momentum on their side, the Danish club scored another three goals in the final 10 minutes of the match to ensure their passage into the group stage.
Midtjylland coach Brian Priske was overjoyed for the club and his players as they prepare to feature in Europe’s most prestigious continental competition.
“This is the most significant result for me during my time at Midtjylland, no doubt about that. This is the culmination, and this is the supreme way that these boys have performed," Priske said.
“We have been hunting the [Champions League] group stage for I don't know how many years. Sometimes it comes down to marginals. It's about whether you chase them or sit back and wait for them to come your way by themselves.”
It won’t be long until Mabil’s side find out their opponents with the UEFA Champions League group stage draw set to take place at 2am* on Friday morning.
Below are the pots for the upcoming UEFA Champions League draw:
Bayern (GER, UEFA Champions League holders)
Sevilla (ESP, UEFA Europa League holders)
Real Madrid (ESP)
Atlético de Madrid (ESP)
Manchester City (ENG)
Manchester United (ENG)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Pot 3 or 4
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
RB Leipzig (GER)
Internazionale Milano (ITA)
Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS)
Club Brugge (BEL)
Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER)
İstanbul Başakşehir (TUR)
*Qualified via play-offs
*Time displayed is AEST