Afghan youth footballer found dead in US plane after attempting to flee Taliban

19 August 2021, 15:55 | Updated: 19 August 2021, 16:29

Zaki Anwari, 19, represented his country aged 16.
Zaki Anwari, 19, represented his country aged 16. Picture: Twitter

By Elizabeth Haigh

A former youth international footballer, Zaki Anwari, has reportedly been found dead after stowing away in the landing gear of a US plane as he tried to escape the Taliban.

Reports say the 19-year old footballer from Afghanistan tragically died while trying to flee the group, who have taken over Afghanistan.

He was discovered in the wheel well of a C-17, which belonged to the United States Airforce. His remains were found once the plane landed in Qatar on August 16.

He was said to have been a promising young footballer and represented his country aged 16.

Read more: Hundreds of desperate Afghans cram into US cargo plane as they flee Taliban

Friends and former teammates have paid tribute on social media, as well as the assistant manager of the national football team, Ali Askar Lali.

Mr Anwari was reportedly one of many filmed running after and clinging onto a US plane as it took off. Several people succeeded in clinging on to the plane, but were filmed falling from the sky after the plane took off.

Read more: 'They will kill them': Afghan translator fears 'Taliban will take revenge on brother'

Thousands of people travelled to Kabul airport as the Taliban took over the city, desperate to escape Taliban rule.

The young footballer had never experienced the Taliban directly, having been born after they were ousted from power in 2001.

Read more: Boy, 5, who fell to death from hotel window in Sheffield was 'Afghan refugee'