Former Australian refugee Emile Damey has made a sterling debut for Liberia with a 79th minute goal against Morocco.
The 22-year-old came on as a substitute in the friendly and was solid in his first outing with the striker receiving high praise from former AC Milan star George Weah.
Damey arrived in Australia with his refugee family as a wide-eyed 11-year-old and quickly made a name for himslef in the junior ranks and went on to represent Victoria’s NPL 2 East this season.
Damey had previously spent time with the Liberian squad in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in June watching from the sidleines.
But Damey made the most of his opporunity against Morocco in an outing likely to earn him more match time for his birth country.
“It's a very special moment for me in my life and my career,” Damey said. I scored on my international debut and received some words of encouragement from the man himself - George Weah."
Damey's next chance to impress will come in Liberia's fixture against Tunisia.
“Look, it’s going to be tough,” he said. “Most of the African teams that go to Tunisia, it’s really tough to win at their home ground, It’s really, really tough.”
“We beat them when they came to Liberia, 1-0. Everyone almost needs a point to qualify. We’re expecting Togo to beat Djibouti. Almost everyone’s on the same points so if we get a point from Tunisia, we’ll qualify but if they also get a point, they’ll qualify. It’s an away game as well so it’s going to be really, really difficult.”
Damey was set to trial for the Central Coast, but the sacking of coach Tom Walmsley scuttled his A-League aspirations.
However, Damey is still hopeful of securing a contract in Australia’s top flight.
"My agents discussed with me that there are a few A-League clubs that had some interest and wanted to have a look at me in the pre-season,” Damey said. “So that’s something we were discussing, but in the meantime I think the most important thing is to go back to what I was doing concentrate on my team; concentrate on developing a lot more, getting more educated and hopefully I can make a step up to A-League.”
Damey spent time with leading speed and movement expert Ranell Hobson in the lead-up to his African stint in the hope of further honing his impressive skills.
Hobson, training director for the Academy of Sport, Speed and Agility in Sydney, said Damey had a lot of improvement in him.
“Prior to the trials for the team selection we identified movement and mobility issues (hips etc) that we worked on and provided programs for him to complete at a distance,” she said.
“He has a lot more athletic potential to unlock and we are really excited for his future.”