Oli Lavale left pinching himself after dream Western United debut

Oliver Lavale Western United

Western United Academy star Oliver Lavale was left pinching himself after his senior debut in the Australia Cup Round of 16 win over Gold Coast Knights on Wednesday night.

Handed a place in the starting XI for his first ever appearance in senior football, Lavale stood up to the challenge with a number of fine touches across a tough first half for the Green and Black.

The youngster’s crowning moment came in the 72nd minute. While it may not have come in the way he would have dreamt about it for years, the feeling was still the same as Lavale wheeled away in celebration.

At 18 years and 147 days old, Lavale’s goal made him Western United’s youngest ever goal scorer in competitive play.

As images surfaced of Lavale celebrating United’s Isuzu UTE A-League Men Championship as a fan last year, Lavale said it meant a lot to go from the stands onto the pitch and make his debut.

“It’s a great feeling. I love this Club, I joined when I was 16 and I’ve worked my way up. I love the people at this Club and I just love playing for the Club,” he said.

“I’ve been working to it (debut) for a while now and I’m just happy to be given the chance by the boss. I’m grateful for it.”

Speaking about his transition from fan to debutant, Lavale expressed his passion for the Green and Black and recalled the memories of Grand Final night in May 2022.

“I just feel like being a fan can contribute a lot to this Club. Only joining a couple of years ago, we’re building on our fanbase. I just wanted to support as much as I could, whether that be in the Service Crew or just helping around the Club,” he said.

“The Grand Final was amazing. Seeing the boys, underdogs the whole season – noone believed in us except us. To win it on that day was amazing, it was a great feeling and it was well deserved because we worked hard for it.”

Lavale was 13 years old when Josh Risdon started all three of the Socceroos’ games at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and five years later he was assisted by Risdon for his first senior goal in what he labelled a “surreal” moment.

With United moving into the last eight of the Australia Cup for the first time, Lavale will hope to keep impressing and make it out onto the pitch again as he continues to live the dream at Western United.