Nadia Nadim: from Afghanistan to Women's EURO

"We were in danger. We got a second chance and I think I grabbed the opportunity" – Denmark's Nadia Nadim describes her incredible journey from Afghanistan.

Nadia Nadim training in the Netherlands
Nadia Nadim training in the Netherlands ©AFP/Getty Images

Denmark striker Nadia Nadim wasn't allowed to play football as a child. Forced to flee Afghanistan following the execution of her father, her family thought they were headed to the UK but ended up in Denmark instead ("I don't think the man helping us out paid a lot of attention in geography classes"). She was introduced to the game at a refugee centre and, less than two decades on, is playing her third Women's EURO.

Life in Afghanistan

"It wasn't a very good time to be a child – being in a war zone and having your dad killed. We were in danger but, luckily, we ended up in Denmark. It is somewhere that was safe, somewhere that we got a second chance, where we could build our lives. I think I grabbed the opportunity."

Falling in love with football

©AFP/Getty Images

"I really got the interest when I was in Denmark in the refugee camp, because it was the only thing we had then. When I have a ball at my feet, I didn't really think about anything else. It's amazing and it helped me through a lot. It got me connected with Danish children. Perhaps it also helped me learn the language faster."

Childhood idols

"We used to watch David Beckham videos to try to bend it like him or see how the Brazilian Ronaldo used to do skills. We used to play from after school till 12 at night, when my mum forced us to go to bed."

Studying medicine

©Sportsfile

"I know that I'm able to help a lot of people if I'm in the right position – and as a doctor you are in that position. I know through my life, the small stuff, the small gestures that people have done for me have had a huge impact on the way I am. I want to be in a situation where I can influence people's lives and help them."

Playing for Denmark

"I'm really proud to be able to do that. Not everyone gets selected and being one of the chosen ones is a big deal. I love playing these games with the pressure. I love that."

Top