SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOTBALL

Real Madrid dream comes true for Palestinian fireball orphan

A Palestinian boy who survived a firebombing by Jewish extremists that killed his parents and baby brother was greeted by Real Madrid's stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, on Thursday.

Real Madrid dream comes true for Palestinian fireball orphan
Five year old Ahmed met the Real Madrid team. Photo: Real Madrid Info / Twitter

Five-year-old Ahmed Dawabcheh has been recovering from his injuries over the past eight months.

Moved by images of the bandaged boy wearing a Real Madrid jersey, Palestinians campaigned for months on social media to persuade the team to meet Ahmed.

And his dream came true as he posed for photos and had a Real shirt christened with own name on the back signed by the club's Galacticos, including three-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo and Welsh star Bale.

 

 

“The Real Madrid team met him and took photos with him and gave him a shirt and ball signed by the whole team,” Madrid said in a statement.

“Clearly moved, the boy ran around the facilities before witnessing his idols train.”

After meeting the players at Real's training ground, Ahmed was then given a tour of the club's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

 

 

The attack in July drew renewed attention to Jewish extremism, sparked international condemnation and worsened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub said Real Madrid were “restoring hope for a child who lost his entire family”.

 

 

In December Ronaldo also met a three-year-old Lebanese boy who had lost both parents in a suicide bombing in his home country.

His on-field rival, Barcelona's Lionel Messi, was similarly moved by the plight of another five-year-old.

Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi won the internet's heart when he was pictured wearing a plastic bag as an improvised Messi jersey.

He travelled with his family to Kabul last month to receive two jerseys autographed by the Argentine star, which were presented to the young fan by UNICEF.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

SHOW COMMENTS