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Football club makes history by giving 14-year-old goalkeeper his debut against A-League side

Fairytale moment that makes football club history by giving the 14-year-old goalkeeper his debut against A-League Macarthur FC – as his mum admits she was a nervous wreck as he walked on

  • Oakleigh Cannons made history with debuting 14-year-old goalkeeper Ymer Abili
  • Abili came in as a late substitute against A-League side Macarthur FC
  • Oakleigh lost the game 5-2, but the young goalkeeper kept a clean sheet

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Oakleigh Cannons’ fantasy may be over – but their radiant 14-year-old goalkeeper, Ymer Abili, was still left in Melbourne dreamland today as the youngest ever footballer to win the Australia Cup.

Less than 24 hours after another schoolboy Christopher Atherton at age 13 became the youngest ever in a seniors match in the UK, young Abili beamed his own way into the Australian football annals with his delightful cameo appearance in the semi-final defeat of the Cannons against Macarthur.

With the Victorian semi-pro’s romantic run about to be ended by A-League Men’s Macarthur, who led 5-2 in the closing minutes of their semi-final, Cannons coach Chris Taylor took the opportunity to take Abili, who usually plays for their Under-14s, his fairytale moment.

Oakleigh Cannons made history by debuting 14-year-old goalkeeper Ymer Abili in the Australia Cup semi-final against A-League Macarthur

Oakleigh Cannons made history by debuting 14-year-old goalkeeper Ymer Abili in the Australia Cup semi-final against A-League Macarthur

Abili came on as a substitute late in the game with Macarthur leading 5-2.  Abili replaced experienced keeper Lewis Italiano - who on 31 .  is more than twice as old

Abili came on as a substitute late in the game with Macarthur leading 5-2.  Abili replaced experienced keeper Lewis Italiano - who on 31 .  is more than twice as old

Abili came on as a substitute late in the game with Macarthur leading 5-2. Abili replaced experienced keeper Lewis Italiano – who on 31 . is more than twice as old

The youngster took him off the subs bench at Jack Edwards Reserve’s home in Oakleigh, but the youngster couldn’t keep the incredulous smile off his face when told to take the gloves from the Cannons’ experienced keeper, Lewis. Italiano, who is more than twice as old as Abili at 31. .

After receiving a thunderous reception from home fans as he took on the might of ex-Man United football superstar Dwight Yorke’s Bulls, the even better news was that young Ymer stopped conceding goals as Macarthur took their expected place in the final. against Sydney United.

Explaining that the substitution was pre-scheduled for the final moments as the Cannons headed out, Abili told Network 10: “Eighty-fifth minute I think. He [Taylor] said “warm up” – I buzzed, so happy!’

Abili received a thunderous reception from the home fans and managed to keep a clean sheet for Oakleigh Cannons

Abili received a thunderous reception from the home fans and managed to keep a clean sheet for Oakleigh Cannons

Abili received a thunderous reception from the home fans and managed to keep a clean sheet for Oakleigh Cannons

There was a nerve-wracking moment in the closing seconds when Abili looked like he might have to field a corner, but he just shrugged: “I was just excited to go on and make history, that’s all.”

And when he asked if perhaps he should have been called sooner, he shrugged with a smile: “I don’t know… Chris Taylor’s call, not mine!”

His mother didn’t sound so cool, though. “I was a nervous wreck,” she said. ‘I’ve been nervous all night. I am so proud of Ymer, he has been training very, very hard the last few years.’

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

‘We are extremely proud! What an incredible evening to watch our 14 year old keeper Abili make his debut!! A historic moment for our club and for the Australia Cup!!’

Abili couldn't stop smiling and said after the game that he was excited to make history for the club.  The Cannons tweeted: 'We are extremely proud!  What an incredible evening to watch our 14 year old keeper Abili make his debut!!  A historic moment for our club and for the Australia Cup!!'

Abili couldn't stop smiling and said after the game that he was excited to make history for the club.  The Cannons tweeted: 'We are extremely proud!  What an incredible evening to watch our 14 year old keeper Abili make his debut!!  A historic moment for our club and for the Australia Cup!!'

Abili couldn’t stop smiling and said after the game that he was excited to make history for the club. The Cannons tweeted: ‘We are extremely proud! What an incredible evening to watch our 14 year old keeper Abili make his debut!! A historic moment for our club and for the Australia Cup!!’

But even Abili couldn’t match the feat thousands of miles away when Atherton, aged 13 years and 329 days, broke a British football record held for 42 years when he played for Glenavon in the second half against Dollingstown in Northern Ireland. League cup.

Even more extraordinary, his first touch was the scoring of his side’s last goal in their 6-0 win.

Atherton is almost a year younger than the record holder as Britain’s youngest professional player, Eamon Collins, who made his Blackpool debut in 1980 at the age of 14 and 323 days.

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton, whose son plays in the same junior team as Atherton, said: “He got his debut based on his skills and a reward for the way he has played through the age groups.

“He’s only in the third year of school. We brought him in last year to train with the first team and he never looked bad.”