The forgotten story of … the striker saved by football in Saddam’s Iraq

Sahib Abbas was locked up, tortured and forced to cope with the state-organised murder of his brother and four friends but thrived in remarkable circumstances

Just as he had done after every game, Sahib Abbas took the journey back to Karbala by bus. This time, however, there was no sign of his brother Fadhil. An amputee who had lost part of a leg during the Gulf War, his hobbling brother liked to quiz Sahib about the result as they made the 200-yard walk home, rejoicing with him when they won and commiserating when they lost. But, four matches into Sahib’s fledgling career with the top-division side Salahaddin, Fadhil was nowhere to be seen.

“They came and took him a week ago,” explained Sahib’s mother when he arrived home. “They” being the security officers. It had been only few months since Saddam Hussein ordered his army to invade neighbouring Kuwait before withdrawing under the pressure of the US-led coalition. President George Bush called on the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam to step down. Along with his two brothers and a group of friends, the teenage Sahib would go out in his father’s Toyota Land Cruiser and attack checkpoints held by the army. But then the government declared a complete victory and Sahib was forced to flee for his life.

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Source: Football News
Link : The forgotten story of … the striker saved by football in Saddam’s Iraq

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