Confirmation of his move to Spain’s La Liga has capped off a remarkable month for Socceroos winger Awer Mabil.
Still on a high after helping Australia defy the odds to qualify for the World Cup via a nailbiting playoffs campaign, Mabil had further cause for celebration in Adelaide on Friday when his four-year deal with Spanish club Cadiz was announced.
“La Liga is one of the best championships in the world, with some of the best teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid,” Mabil said.
“I never imagined I could play against them – now it’s a reality.
“Now I have to work hard. I will give my best to win games, (and) against the big teams it will be even more special.”
The 26-year-old former Adelaide United attacker said earning a contract with a La Liga club was a reward for his determination to prove critics wrong after a rough end to his time with Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.
“A year ago somebody told me I was not good enough to play in a top-five league (in the world),” he said.
“I took that as motivation. I look for small things to motivate me and this is just another step for me to take me game up to another level.
“Everybody’s got their own path. It’s just how much you want it, and how much you’re willing to put in the work.
“I could have come back (to the A-League) after Denmark and not playing so much … but I was determined that one day I would achieve this.
“I had to go through those tough times. Anybody that goes overseas, the most important thing is to have that grit and continue, and remember what you want to achieve … because the doors will open for you.”
A similar determination to prove doubters wrong inspired the Socceroos in this month’s World Cup playoffs against the United Arab Emirates and Peru.
“Not many believed in us, especially after we didn’t qualify directly (for the World Cup), but we did it,” said Mabil, who netted a penalty in Australia’s qualifying-clinching shootout success against Peru.
“We’re going there (to Qatar 2022) with the same momentum. We need what we need to improve on and we’ll work on those things.”
Mabil said the Socceroos had no fears about being a group that included reigning world champions France, as well as Denmark and Tunisia.
“We see the group as a good group and it can be in our favour depending on how we take it, and we’re going to take it with both hands.”