Aussie football loses it over 14-year-old's incredible slice of history

·4-min read
Pictured here, 14-year-old Ymer Abili is the youngest player ever to feature in football's Australia Cup.
At 14 years of age, Ymer Abili is the youngest player ever to feature in football's Australia Cup competition. Pic: Ch10/Getty

Fans are celebrating a historic moment in Aussie sport after 14-year-old goalkeeper Ymer Abili became the youngest player ever to feature in football's Australia Cup.

Abili was left in dreamland on Wednesday night in Melbourne after coming on as a late substitute for the Oakleigh Cannons, in their 5-2 semi-final defeat to A-League Men's side Macarthur.

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The young keeper couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he ran onto the field and into the annals of Australian football history.

Macarthur were leading the semi-final 5-2 in the dying minutes, when Cannons' coach Chris Taylor took the chance to give Abili, who usually plays for their Under-14s side, his fairytale moment.

Taking him off the subs' bench at Oakleigh's Jack Edwards Reserve home, the youngster could not keep the disbelieving smile off his face as he took his place in goals.

Abili took over the gloves from the Cannons' experienced keeper Lewis Italiano - who at 31 is more than twice his young teammate's age.

After getting a roaring reception from the home fans as he came on to face the might of ex-Man United soccer superstar Dwight Yorke's Bulls, Ymer managed to keep a clean sheet in his short cameo.

While his own side's fairytale run came to an end in the competition - formerly known as the FFA Cup - fans couldn't get enough of the 14-year-old's astonishing slice of history.

Ymer Abili 'excited' to make Aussie history

Abili explained afterwards that his coach had pre-planned for the landmark moment, if it was clear the Cannons were going out of the competition.

He told Network 10: "85th minute, I think. He (coach Chris Taylor) said, 'warm up' - I was buzzing, so happy!"

There was a nerve-racking moment in the final seconds when Abili looked as if he'd have to deal with a corner, but he just shrugged: "I was just excited to go on and make history, that's it."

Pictured centre, 14-year-old goalkeeper Ymer Abili poses for a photograph with Oakleigh Cannons teammates Nicolas Niagioran and Wade Dekker.
14-year-old goalkeeper Ymer Abili (C) poses for a photograph with Nicolas Niagioran (L) and Wade Dekker of the Oakleigh Cannons. Pic: Getty

And asked if he perhaps should have been brought on earlier, he shrugged with a smile, "I dunno ... Chris Taylor's call, not mine!"

His mum, though, didn't sound as cool. "I was a nervous wreck," she said. "I've been nervous all night. I'm so proud of Ymer, he trains really, really hard for the last couple of years."

The Cannons hailed their young history maker with a celebratory tweet.

"We are extremely proud! What an incredible night to see our 14 year old keeper Abili make his debut!! An historical moment for our club and for the Australia Cup!!"

with agencies

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