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Theyab Awana’s death may have cost us more than we realize. September 26, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Uncategorized.
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The video of Theyab Awana’s disallowed, backheeled penalty for the United Arab Emirates against Syria is embedded right in the Guardian obituary for the Bani Yas winger killed in a car crash today.

Like most people outside of UAE soccer, I knew nothing of Awana outside of what was contained in that video. I’d also hazard a guess that, if it weren’t for the penalty against Syria, the Western media would not have reported on Awana’s death.

Embedding the penalty is appropriate. We remember the moment of joy Awana gave all of us and it gives us a moment of sorrow.

But undoubtedly there was more to Awana. The penalty kick video suggested to us a player of the kind of technique that inspires supreme self-confidence. It also embodied wild-eyed audacity. There is a quality of footballing joie de vivre that’s tragically rare these days, that Awana seemed to epitomize, the sense that he, unlike so many footballers, did not see reason to take himself entirely seriously.

The above is the only other clip of Awana I could find. It also shows the same delightful qualities. The winger beats two men on the right side, then looks up. What he does next may be motivated by dissatisfaction with his options, but it might just be that the temptation to have a little fun is too much to resist.

Awana turns back into traffic to beat his man again, draws two players to himself and then turns breathtakingly to leave them for dead, accelerates along the byline and startles the goalkeeper with a shot in at his near post.

That puts Bani Yas in the lead, but strangely Awana doesn’t seem to do much celebrating. I like to think that’s because the goal itself was a celebration. If this is the kind of thing the 21-year-old winger would have spent the rest of his career giving the football world, then his loss really is a loss to all of us.