Theyab Awana, 21, dies in car crash

Updated: September 26, 2011, 8:56 AM ET
Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates soccer player who became an Internet sensation this year when he scored a backheeled penalty kick was killed in a car accident.

Theyab Awana died when a car he was in collided with a truck late Sunday while on the way back to Abu Dhabi after national team training in Al Ain. He was 21.

"I feel the loss of one of my family," UAE soccer president Mohammed Khalfan al-Rumaithi said Monday on the national federation's website. "I felt bitter tragedy. May the almighty bless him and may he rest in eternal peace."

Al-Rumaithi praised Awana's commitment to the UAE. The winger was a rising star on the country's national team, becoming even more prominent after his penalty kick during a 7-2 drubbing of Lebanon in July.

Awana jogged up to the ball before spinning and flicking the ball past the goalkeeper with his right heel. The YouTube video has been viewed more than 1.2 million times.

Awana, who also played for UAE club Bani Yas, had been injured and was due to fly to Germany for treatment.

The national team called off training Monday so players could attend Awana's funeral in Bani Yas. The UAE plays at South Korea in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 11.

The Asian Football Confederation expressed its sympathy in a statement on its website.

"His demise at such a young age is a great loss to Asian and UAE football in particular," acting president Zhang Jilong said.

The roads in United Arab Emirates are among the region's most dangerous. A goalkeeper for the Under-23 side was badly injured in a car crash last year.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press