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Former Manchester City footballer from Afghanistan recalls harrowing night she fled the Taliban

04 Jul 2020 Daily Mail Online

A former Manchester City footballer who grew up in Afghanistan has recalled the harrowing night she fled the Taliban aged 10 - after the terrorists executed her father.

Nadia Nadim, 32, told how she, her mother and four sisters left Kabul on trucks and made the long journey to Europe, where they eventually settled in Denmark.

After several years of living in a centre dedicated to asylum seekers, the family finally set up home in the country.

Striking up a passion for football, Nadia was able to pursue her dream of playing professionally - which she now juggles with training to become a surgeon.

Nadia Nadim, 32, grew up in Afghanistan and fled the Taliban aged 10 - after the terrorists executed her father

Striking up a passion for football, Nadia was able to pursue her dream of playing professionally - which she juggles with training to become a surgeon. Pictured playing for Manchester City

She is currently playing for French side Paris Saint Germain and is using her life experience to help other refugees fleeing war torn nations.

Nadia is an ambassador for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), one of the world's largest displaced persons non-governmental organisations which recently launched a global appeal to raise £60 million to respond to the immediate impact of the Covid-19 crisis for the 70 million displaced men, women and children in 37 countries all over the world.

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Speaking to FEMAIL, Nadia told how her father was a general in the Afghani army and she enjoyed a 'normal' childhood until his shocking murder.

'My mother Namida was a school headmaster. I was born in Heratbut, but we moved around in the country because of my father’s job,' she explained.

Nadia told how her father was a general in the Afghani army and she enjoyed a 'normal' childhood until his shocking murder

'One day he just didn't come home, and we knew it wasn't good. Shortly afterwards, army officials told us he had been executed and we knew we needed to flee quickly.'

Nadia remembers the time after her father was killed as 'very turbulent and unsafe', prompting her, her mother and four sisters - Giti, Diana, Muskan and Mujda - to attempt to escape to London, where they had relatives.

'Fleeing was terrible,' she recalled. 'We fled on trucks and it was all very scary and we were constantly hungry during the long trip through Europe. 

'We were trying to reach the UK, but one day we were unloaded from a truck in Frederikshavn, in the northern part of Denmark, which ended up as our final destination.

Nadia remembers the time after her father was killed as very turbulent and unsafe, prompting her, her mother and four sisters - Giti, Diana, Muskan and Mujda - to attempt to escape to London, where they had relatives

'I first lived in an asylum centre for a couple of years. Then we got our own place which I remember as a really nice change. 

'Eventually we bought a house where we all lived together – even today when I am home from Paris where I work, I stay there.'

Nadia went to school in Denmark and quickly learned the language (she now speaks 11 including English, Spanish, French, German, Persian, Dari, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and Latin) which helped her integrate into her new society.

She recalled: 'The Danes were nice to my family and I still remember the Danish policeman who met us on our arrival to Denmark. He gave me a banana. I was starving. 

'It’s such small gesture but a beautiful one. Sometimes it’s the small ones that count.'

Nadia is currently playing for French side Paris Saint Germain and is using her life experience to help other refugees fleeing war torn nations

Nadia's interest in football was piqued after watching Danish children having a kick-about outside her asylum centre.

'I found old footballs and started playing with my sisters,' she said. 'Eventually I managed to get a pair of football shoes – secondhand, of course – and started playing on a real team with Danish kids.'

She went on to play for B52 Aalborg, Team Viborg and IK Skovbakken, before moving to Fortuna Hjørring in 2012. Nadia made her Champions League debut that September, scoring both goals in a 2–1 win over Scottish Champions Glasgow City.

She was able to apply for citizenship when she turned 18 in 2006, meaning she became eligible to play for the Danish national side.

Nadia was able to apply for citizenship when she turned 18 in 2006, meaning she now plays for the Danish national side too

In 2018 she signed to FA Women's Super League side Manchester City - and scored her first goal six minutes into her debut.

In her second match for the side she scored the winner in a 1–0 victory over Chelsea in the semi-final of the Continental Tyres Cup.

She left the club in January 2019 and signed with Paris Saint-Germain, where she has worn the captain's armband several times.

Nadia is believed to be one of the best paid players in the women's game, but insists she doesn't play for money and intends to make her fortune out of her future career as a doctor. 

She is studying medicine at Aarhus University in Denmark, and has just one semester remaining, though it's currently on hold while she pursues her football career.

Nadia, pictured with her mother, is studying medicine at Aarhus University in Denmark, and has just one semester remaining, though it's currently on hold while she pursues her football career

Nadia's interest in football was piqued after watching Danish children having a kickabout outside her asylum centre. Pictured playing for Paris Saint Germain

A love of sport seems to run in the family, with one of Nadia's sisters competing as a professional boxer, but so clearly does a desire to help people in need.

All of Nadia's immediate family still live in Denmark, where three of her sisters are nurses and another is a doctor too.  

Speaking about her involvement with the DRC, which warns the global pandemic is a 'crisis in a crisis' for refugees, Nadia said: 'I believe we all should do something to help. 

All of Nadia's immediate family still live in Denmark, where three of her sisters are nurses and another is a doctor too. Nadia is believed to be one of the best paid players in the women's game, but insists she doesn't play for money and intends to make her fortune out of her future career as a doctor

'This is one of the many things I support and I think that the DRC is doing a fantastic job in 40 countries, with 9,000 staff of which 1,000 work in Afghanistan.

'Many people have lost their jobs due to lockdowns all over the world, but refugees are particularly vulnerable because they have nothing to begin with. 

'They now have even less, causing food scarcity, stressed families leading to more violence and children being married too young because their families cannot support them.'

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8484049/Former-Manchester-City-footballer-Afghanistan-recalls-harrowing-night-fled-Taliban.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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