Back-heel penalty taker killed in car crash

DUBAI - United Arab Emirates midfielder Theyab Awana, who became a YouTube celebrity after scoring a back-heeled penalty in an international against Lebanon, was killed in a car crash on Sunday, the country's football association said on Monday.

Awana, 21, died following an accident in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

The national team had been preparing for a trip to Asia next month when news of Awana's death broke.

"The whole team went today to the funeral, it was very sad," UAE team administrator Ahmed Saeed told reporters.

"Everybody was shocked. His whole family was so proud of him. We will never forget him."

Awana converted an audacious penalty in a 6-2 friendly win over Lebanon in July and the clip received more than 1.2 million hits on YouTube.

However, his coach Srecko Katanec did not see the funny side, substituting the player immediately after he scored and leaving him out of the line-up for the next match.

Awana played for the UAE in Wednesday's 0-0 draw against Australia in an Olympic qualifier but suffered an injury and was due to have treatment on his injury this week.

"Awana was very honest, keen and committed to his duties. It's a great loss for us, it is very painful news" Khalfan Al Rumaithi, president of the UAE FA, told the association's website.

Zhang Jilong, acting president of the Asian Football Confederation, also paid tribute to the player.

"On behalf of AFC and the Asian football family, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the UAE football community, family and friends of Awana," Jilong told the AFC website.

"His demise at such a young age is a great loss to Asian and UAE football in particular."

The UAE squad's training was cancelled on Monday but they will resume on Tuesday ahead of a friendly against China next week and a World Cup qualifier against South Korea on October 11.


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