Rising Socceroo Awer Mabil has emerged from the fog of grief surrounding the death of his sister to declare: “I don’t worry about the bulls**t things anymore”.
The attacking weapon’s sibling Bor, 19, was killed in a car crash in Adelaide back in January - just hours before Mabil, 23, played a cameo role as the Socceroos were beaten 1-0 by UAE in the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup.
The Kenyan-born refugee, who has dedicated much of his off-field life to helping fund the futures of those in the impoverished Kakuma camp he once called home, is still dealing with the impact of the loss, and believes it has offered him a form of clarity.
Speaking from Denmark, where his five goals, 10 assists so far this season have helped spearhead the Superliga title challenge of high-flying Midtjylland, Mabil told The World Game: “Life sometimes surprises us and we have to just try and enjoy it, and take care of each other.
“This has taught me not to worry about the bulls**t in your life, the political stuff ... black, white, this, that.
“That’s all just there for us to fight against each other. Things like that I don’t take seriously any more.
“Everybody is the same and each life is as important as the next. From the highest placed people to a normal person ... it’s still a life. We’re all the same.
“I’m learning to treat each individual the same way. To me, there are no differences.
“Everybody is important and everybody needs to be cared for.”
Mabil received a flood of support from his Australia teammates, and the wider football community, in the aftermath of the tragedy - help which he believes made continuing his career with a positive and uncluttered mindset more achievable.
“The boys have been amazing - they are my football family,” said Mabil, who scored twice at the Asian Cup to take his tally for four goals in nine appearances for his country.
“They came together and offered their support, and me and my family (back in Adelaide) really appreciate that.
“It just shows you that football is more than just a sport and it brings people together.
“I’m so thankful to my Socceroos brothers, my teammates here at Midtjylland, and football in general.
“Because of what happened it takes a lot of mental strength to get back to your top.
“I’m happy I’ve still been able to perform and I think I’ll get better as time goes by as my mental strength improves.”
Mabil, who recently signed a contract extension until 2020, is, according to reports from Turkey, on the wanted list of giants Besiktas.
Not that he’s buying into a speculation surrounding his future.
“I’m just enjoying my football and have no idea (about Besiktas),” he added.
“I don’t know who’s interested and I’m at a really, really good club and whatever comes, comes.
“I’m not going to let it disturb me. I just want to get good results for my team and make the fans happy.
“We’re in with a good chance of winning the championship, and that’s all I’m focused on.
“We’ve got one of the best squads in the club’s history on paper and need to back that up (on the field). We have an unbelievable team.”
Mobil is also excited about the future with the national team under Graham Arnold.
“We have a great setup and the coach is bringing in a lot of the next generation of players,” he said.
“The atmosphere is great for your development and I’m excited for the next phase of Australian football.”
Whilst hailed as one of Arnold’s breakthrough performers at the Asian Cup, Mabil believes he’s still scratching the surface.
“It was amazing to be part of a major tournament,” he reflected. “I think I could have helped the team more, especially in the first games.
“Maybe scoring more and creating more. But that’s for next time. It’s a learning curve.
“I think we’re onto something great as a whole team.”