Ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, newly capped Socceroos international Awer Mabil had every right to be nervous about his career at club level.
Entering the new campaign, the former Adelaide United youngster had just one year to run on his contract and had often found himself on the outer of FC Midtjylland’s first team plans.
After joining the club in 2015, going onto make six league appearances in his first campaign, the 23-year-old was shipped out on loan to Esbjerg and Portuguese outfit Pacos de Ferreira for the following two seasons.
But everything has changed for Mabil this campaign, as he has established himself as a first team regular with the Danish club.
Prior to the season beginning, rumours linked Mabil with a possible return to the A-League as his chances of regular football appeared thin.
At the time, Mabil took to social media to address the rumours making it clear he was determined to live out his dream.
“Before you read this you should know there is a reason eye replace ‘I’ with ‘Eye’,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Three years ago today Eye left home, family, friends, teammates and coaches, fans as a 19-year-old looking to follow his dream. Still a very long way to go, Eye have face challenges and will continue to do so but learning to face and love them to continue growing.
“The young boy is now becoming stronger throughout all the obstacles and soon will be unstoppable. Eye am in charge of my outcome and eye will make it happen.
“To Adelaide United fans eye am not coming home yet. Eye will suffer here in Europe to make my dreams come true first and make Adelaide proud of one their boys.”
It was that drive that put Mabil in the position he finds himself in at this stage of the season.
To date, Mabil has become a difference maker for Midtjylland, scoring two goals and creating six from 11 Danish Superliga appearances.
His form this season saw Mabil get his reward with a new club contract which will take him through to 2022, at a point where he will be 27 and quite possibly at the peak of his hours.
But perhaps the biggest reward came for Mabil when he was handed his maiden Socceroos cap by new boss Graham Arnold last month.
When speaking to Mabil in early 2017, you could just hear the excitement in his voice of dreaming on pulling on the green and gold.
“It is a dream for me to play for the Socceroos but I’ve got to keep working hard for my club and keep developing my game. I want to wear it,” he told the Daily Football Show.
“It’s not just a goal, it’s a goal for every year to play for the national team and in order to do that you have to play well for your club.
“It is my ultimate goal to play in a World Cup, to play for Australia would be amazing.”
It was a dream come true for Mabil and a whirlwind moment which was capped off with a goal – a moment he will never forget.
Mabil has previously said the transformation of his playing style to become less predictable has become a key in his development, which helped him earn a Socceroos cap.
“When I just stay wide, defenders in Europe would read me easily, so it was about putting in the hours with people at the club, watching videos and seeing where I could add to my game,” he said during the Socceroos training camp during September.
“In the last year, I’ve added on that position of being able to play as a No.10 or a winger that comes inside, collects the ball and makes something happen from there.
“I’ve varied whether to stay wide, whether to come inside, so it’s been good to add those things to my name.”
In a situation where he could have easily given in and perhaps taken what many would consider the easy option and coming home to Australia, Mabil has stuck fat.
As the saying goes, when the going gets tough the tough get going, Mabil has shown exactly that he has the mental attitude to deal with the challenges of being a professional footballer.
Mabil has refused to give in and with his dream still being lived he is going to continue chasing all of the goals that he has in front of him.