Afghani Refugee Becomes a Football Star in Europe

Published February 5th, 2020 - 08:00 GMT
Nadia Nadim (Twitter)
Nadia Nadim (Twitter)
Highlights
“We had a club beside our refugee camp and I used to watch other girls, kids play football. This is what I want to do."

A refugee from the days of the Taliban in Afghanistan has become a football star in Europe.

Nadia Nadim, 32, a member of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) women's football team, had to escape from Afghanistan in the 2000s after her father, a general, was killed by the Taliban.

Nadim was 12 years old in 2000, when the Taliban executed her father.

Born in Herat, Afghanistan in 1988, Nadim and her family at first went to Italy with fake passports but then lived in a refugee camp in Denmark, where she learned to play football.

In 2008 she obtained Danish nationality to play for Denmark’s national team.

Nadim told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that she and her family were taken outside Afghanistan when her father got killed by the Taliban and they were later brought to Denmark by traffickers.

"The first time I saw football, in a refugee camp in Denmark, I was like, this is what I want to do,” she recalled.

“We had a club beside our refugee camp and I used to watch other girls, kids play football. This is what I want to do."

Nadim said that she asked the camp's football coach to put her on the team, and the game became an "obsession" for her.

She used to imitate the moves and dribbling skills of football players she saw on TV. Her idol was Brazilian legendary forward Ronaldo.

"I’ve always been a really huge fan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic," Nadim said, adding that she loved his attitude on the pitch.

Nadim also spoke well of her current club, PSG, one of the best in the world.

"My dream came true. I’m so grateful. Every day I wake up, I’m really thankful for this position. But also I know that it’s not something that just came with luck. I worked for this," she said.

She added that it might look impossible at first, but it’s a great success when big dreams come true.

"I keep my hopes up. Anything could change. I think I’m a great example,” she explained.

“Even though you're at your lowest point in life and have no hope. If you set your mind to it, and you work hard towards it, because nothing is going to come for free. I think it's possible to change any situation." 

Nadim said she wants to finish her studies to eventually become a doctor and have an "impact on women's football or football in general by working for UEFA or FIFA part time."

In 2019, she was named UNESCO ambassador for work supporting girls' education.

"If you want to change something, you have to start with schools. You have to educate people. And I’m so honored to be chosen because I think it's a huge responsibility," she said.

"I’ve been to Istanbul so many times. I actually have an aunt living in Istanbul. I love Istanbul. I’ve been to some other places in Turkey as well. But I’m the biggest fan of Istanbul, because the atmosphere is amazing."

Nadim also praised Turkish football fans’ passion.

"I always thought that Turkish fans are pretty awesome. When I see Fenerbahce or Galatasaray, even though when the Turkish national team plays in Europe... When Turkey was playing [against] Denmark, I was in the stadium. It was in Denmark but I could only hear the Turkish fans," she said

One day she might play for a Turkish club if the chance comes up, she said.

Nadim began her career at B52 Aalborg football club in Denmark.

She played for many clubs in Denmark and the U.S. but joined England's Manchester City in 2018.

In January 2019, Nadim made her way to Paris to become a PSG player, and in July the French club extended her contract until June 2020.

This season Nadim has scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for PSG.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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