Mark Milligan's moving tribute to Caltex Socceroos debutants

Awer Mabil and Thomas Deng were South Sudanese refugees over a decade ago.

Earlier this morning they became Caltex Socceroos.

It was an incredible milestone for the two childhood friends, who grew up in Adelaide bonding over the love of football.

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And to make the moment more special, the pair were gifted Caltex Socceroos jerseys by veteran Mark Milligan.

Mabil and Deng both recall watching the Caltex Socceroos – who had a young Milligan among their ranks - play in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany after arriving in Australia as migrants the same year.

The Australian veteran paid an emotional tribute to the two debutants.


“I think everybody in this room knows how hard the journey to get here is… maybe not everyone knows how hard it was especially for these two players,” he said.

“I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t feel I could do it justice. What I will say is congratulations on making it here and what I do know is the hard work to stay here begins now.”

“It’s a great group to be involved in, I’ve been around for quite a while now and I can honestly say this is probably the most enjoyment I’ve had with this team with this group of players.”

Mabil and Deng humbly said they felt honoured to be a part of the Caltex Socceroos.

 “I’d like to say thank you to all the players, all the coaches,” said Mabil.

“Thank you for making us feel normal and feel part of the group.

“As Millsy said we’ve had some tough background but we would not change that for anything because it just makes us stronger.”

Awer Mabil