Mabil recounts incredible path from refugee camp to Caltex Socceroos
Jetting off to Denmark as a teenager in 2015 must have been a breeze for Awer Mabil after the incredible road he has taken to the pinnacle of Australian football.
The exciting winger provided one of the heart-warming sporting stories of the year when he marked his Caltex Socceroos debut with a goal in last month's 4-0 victory over Kuwait.
Now, in an interview with the BBC's World Football programme, the former Adelaide United attacker has provided an insight into just how far he has come.
Mabil was born in a refugee camp in Kenya after his parents fled war-torn Sudan and it was there that he was made to develop an early sense of resilience.
"We built a hut out of mud," the 23-year-old explained. "Probably the size of one bedroom in a normal house in the Western world, as you would call it.
"But you know it's not your home. There were four of us living in it - me, my mum, my brother and sister. We got food from the UN once a month.
"Each person would get 1kg of rice, so we had 4kg in our family, and 3kg of beans. It got tricky because we had to ration it.
"We had one meal a day, which was dinner. There was no such thing as breakfast or lunch. You just had to find your way through the day and the little dinner that you had, you really had to appreciate it.
"It was really tough [living there] but it's something I'm really grateful for and will be grateful for for the rest of my life.
"It's built some mentality into my head to appreciate the good times and to not give up on my dreams."
Mabil and his family were resettled in South Australia in 2006 but football remained a constant, helping him to feel at home while accelerating his understanding of English.
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Over a decade on and Mabil, an increasingly important figure for Midtjylland in the Danish Superliga, is now a fully-fledged international footballer.
His first Caltex Socceroos appearance fittingly coincided with that of childhood friend Thomas Deng, and the pair's jubilation upon Mabil's goal made waves on social media.
Former Manchester United and France defender Patrice Evra was among the many to offer congratulations and encouragement.
"The reaction has been amazing," said Mabil, who in 2015 co-founded the Barefoot to Boots foundation which provides resources to the Kakuma camp.
"I grew up watching Evra playing for Manchester United. To get feedback from these big, big guys means the hard work continues and that I'm on the right path."
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