Nadia Nadim, the refugee girl from Afghanistan is Europe’s top footballer

Abhijit Sen Gupta
Abhijit Sen Gupta

Whenever we think of Afghanistan, we think of a country ravaged by internecine war. Or we think about the heritage, culture and customs of the people. But we must also remember that this country has produced extremely talented sportspersons who have overcome massive obstacles to achieve success.

We are familiar with one such player–Rashid Khan–the leg spinner who has made a name for himself in cricket. But there is another famous player who is not well known in India. That player is Nadia Nadim, a woman footballer who plays for Denmark women’s football team and was earlier selected as captain of the famous Paris St. Germain club (women’s team). Currently she is with Racing Louisville FC in the USA.

Nadia became popular as the top woman footballer in Europe. In 2018, she was ranked at number 20 by Forbes magazine among the most Powerful Women in International Sport. The list also included tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki and golf star Sung Hyun Park. In 2019, she was named UNESCO Champion for Girls and Women’s Education and hailed for her contribution to gender equality.

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Moreover she has a gift for learning languages and can speak nine languages including Urdu, Hindi and Arabic.

The story of her life is worthy of respect and admiration. She was born in Herat city in Afghanistan in 1998. But tragedy struck her family when she was only 11 years old. Her father, a senior ranking army officer, was captured and executed by the Taliban. Fearing for their lives, the mother took her children and escaped to Pakistan. From there she hoped to reach London where she had some relatives. But after a series of hair-raising adventures, the mother and her children landed up in Denmark by accident.

There they were interned in a refugee camp. Seeing the other refugee children playing football, little Nadia also joined in and her prowess immediately became obvious. It so happened that a football coach spotted her and realised that she has God gifted talent. Even without coaching, she was playing a marvellous game. So he got her enrolled with a local amateur football club.

Her big break came at the age of 18 when she was selected for IK Skovbakken which is a club that plays in the Elite Division in the women’s football league in Denmark. Then there was no stopping her. She made her Champions League debut in September 2012, and scored two goals in a 2–1 win over Scotland’s champion club Glasgow City.

Her blossoming football career saw her move from club to club and the goals just would not stop coming. Records fell at her feet as she dribbled her way past the best of defenders with incredible ease. Her club career took her to the USA where she represented Portland Thorns FC and she emerged as the top scorer for the 2017 season. Then she returned to Europe and joined Manchester City and then Paris St Germain.

She also represents her adopted country Denmark. In the women’s 2017 UEFA Euro championship, she helped Denmark defeat Germany 2-1. In 2020 Denmark had to win against Italy to qualify for the Euro and Nadia scored two crucial goals for which she was crowned “Player of the Match.”

Additionally, she is a doctor in reconstructive surgery. A full list of her achievements would fill up an entire book. Need we say anything more about this Superwoman from Afghanistan?

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