If the Wanderers new number 34 looked strangely familiar on the weekend, it’s because you probably stood next to him on the terrace sometime in the past three years.
It’s the ultimate dream of every football fan who has ever lived – to don the colours of the team you support and for 17-year-old Mario Shabow, the dream became reality after the Iraq-born starlet’s first team debut in the Wanderers’ 2-0 win over the Mariners on Sunday.
“I’ve always been a massive Wanderers supporter so to pull on the jersey was such a proud moment for me and my family.”
Coming on as a late substitute for Romeo Castelen, the Hoxton Park local caught the eye of many in an impressive ten minute cameo, demonstrating both the silkiest of touches and the diligence off the ball required for a Tony Popovic team.
Shabow says the chance to play alongside some of his childhood heroes was unbelievable.
“I don’t know what was going through my head when I was told I was going on: I was nervous and had a few butterflies so when I was called over I was buzzing.”
Shabow has been a regular on the terraces from the club’s formative moments including the club’s first ever match against Nepean FC in July 2012 and remembers the experience fondly.
“The atmosphere was really good, I was standing next to the RBB and wanted to be a part of it from the next game.
“I was only 15. I was in love with the Wanderers from then on and have been going to all the games since then, including pre-season.
The young attacking midfielder is now training full-time with the first team and is hungry to land more first-team action.
“It’s a different feeling from being in the terrace and looking at the players from a distance and I’m enjoying every moment of it.”
“I’m training full time with the first team at the moment and I’d love to hopefully get a first team contract for next season and to make the Young Socceroos squad again.”
Mario gets his next shot at first team football when the Wanderers take on Brisbane Roar this Saturday at Pirtek Stadium. Kick-off is 7:30pm and tickets are available here.