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Nadia Nadim, footballer who fled Afghanistan at 11 after Taliban killed father, is now a surgeon

Nadia has earned the doctor title after a specialisation in reconstructive surgery from Denmark’s Aarhus University. She received education whilst playing football.

A file photo of Danish-Afghan footballer Nadia Nadim. | Photo: Twitter/@nadia_nadim
A file photo of Danish-Afghan footballer Nadia Nadim. | Photo: Twitter/@nadia_nadim

New Delhi: Nadia Nadim was just 11 when she fled Afghanistan after her father was whisked away by the Taliban and executed. She landed in Denmark and eventually rose to become a football player, offering inspiration to many. In an interview to Vogue in June 2020, she had said: “If you give refugees a chance, they can contribute and make society better”.

Now, she has proved that again, with one more feather in her cap: This month, she earned the title of doctor after a specialisation in reconstructive surgery from Aarhus University, Denmark, where she studied for five years.

And she managed this feat whilst playing football.

Nadia has 98 international caps to her name. She played for the French side Paris Saint-Germain last season, where she scored 18 goals in 27 games to help her side lift the Division 1 title, in a first.

She is also fluent in at least 11 languages, and is ambassador of an NGO called Danish Refugee Council, which advocates securing sustainable solutions for refugees and displaced people.

A baller life

Born in Afghanistan’s Herat on 2 January 1988, Nadim used to live with her parents and four sisters in an area alongside the president’s family. However, in 2000, the Taliban executed her father, who was a general of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

Following this, the family was forced to leave the country. They eventually reached Denmark via Italy.

In Denmark, Nadia got hooked to the game first when she found girls playing football in their refugee camp where her mother and her sisters lived for nine months. “Football saved me from being this poor outsider kid and made me get accepted,” she told Vogue.

Nadia grew up to become the first person of colour to earn herself a spot in the Denmark national team, in 2009, where she is now a senior player. She was voted as the ‘player of the year’ in 2016 and 2017 in Denmark.

She has also played for Manchester City, Portland Thorns and Fortuna Hjørring, among other league teams.


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