Afghan who died on US plane ID’d as former national soccer player

A former Afghan national youth soccer team player died in the landing gear of a US Air Force plane that hastily took off from Kabul airport amid a desperate rush by people to flee from the Taliban-controlled country.

The remains of 19-year-old Zaki Anwari were discovered when the C-17 Globemaster landed in Qatar, according to East2West News, citing local reports.

“Very sad to hear that one of the youths who tried to leave #Kabul through grabbing the landing gear bay of a #USAF’s C-17A transport airplane few days ago was a player of #Afghanistan’s National youth soccer team, Zaki Anwari,” journalist Babak Taghvaee said in a tweet.

“His body parts were found in the landing gear bay,” added Taghvaee, who previously reported that the presence of stowaways in the landing gear forced the crew to divert to Qatar for an “emergency landing.”

Zaki Anwari, ex-player of Afghanistan's national youth football team, believed to have died trying to flee Afghanistan on the landing gear of an American C-17A plane. His remains were reportedly found in the landing gear.
Zaki Anwari attended Franco-Afghan Esteghlal High School.

In his final Facebook post, Zaki Anwari wrote about being the master of his own destiny.

“You’re the painter of your live [sic] Don’t give the paint brush to anyone else,” he reportedly wrote.

The former athlete had lived in Kabul, where he attended the Franco-Afghan Esteghlal High School, East2West reported, citing the young man’s social media. At age 16, he played for the country’s youth soccer team.

Anwari’s friends reacted to news of his death by posting messages on social media.

Zaki Anwari's friends posted loving messages and tributes to him, following his death.
Zaki Anwari’s friends posted loving messages and tributes to him following his death.

Zaki Anwari played for Afghanistan's youth soccer team when he was 16.
Zaki Anwari played for Afghanistan’s youth soccer team when he was 16.

“We are from God and we return to him,” one person wrote.

Another message read: “Comrade, with whom I had the most and most unforgettable memories, his loss is a great sorrow for me and unspeakable.”

The Khorasan Lions, the Afghan national soccer team, announced the young man’s death on its Facebook page.

“Two days before and after the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, to go to America and find a better future, he rode on the wheels of the American airplane with several other compatriots who fell to the ground while flying with several other compatriots,” according to a translation of the team’s post.

“May his soul rest in peace and his memory be remembered,” it added.

Shocking videos have shown masses of Afghans chasing after the plane as it taxied down the runway, with some managing to cling on as it took off.

Two people plunged to their deaths moments later as the plane rapidly gained altitude over the fallen city.