Zaki Anwari, a 19-year-old Afghan soccer player and a former member of the country’s national team, fell to his death from a U.S. plane taking off from the Kabul airport Monday.
“He was a brilliant young player, a very good human,” his coach Mobin Muhammad told The Daily Beast through tears. Anwari previously captioned a picture of himself on Facebook with “Football is my love.”
Rahil Abid, a teammate of Anwari, said, “His dead body, all his bones were smashed.”
Anwari was a member of the under-14 national football team and “a lovely human,” Shams Amini, a deputy spokesman of the Afghan football federation, told The Daily Beast. Amini added that the team had a training session the first day the Taliban took over, but their office has closed since.
“We don’t know any thing about our future planning yet, waiting for Taliban regime policies and guidance,” he said. The former captain of the women’s national team, who now lives in Copenhagen, urged her teammates to burn their jerseys for fear of Taliban reprisals.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends, and teammates of young Afghan national team footballer Zaki Anwari,” the International Federation of Professional Footballers tweeted.
On Monday, dozens of Afghans climbed onto military jets taking off from the Kabul airport, desperate to flee the capital after the Taliban’s swift takeover. Videos showed several people on the wings of a jet, with one person falling from the sky and onto a nearby roof as the plane lifted off. American military pilots discovered human remains in their landing gear after they touched down in Qatar on Tuesday.
Hamid Karzai Airport has become the central stage of the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the ensuing Taliban ascendance. Thousands of Afghans attempting to leave the country have crowded the runways and pushed at the fences of the airport as Taliban fighters used harsh crowd control methods to fend them off, even firing live rounds and killing multiple people. The Taliban took control of the presidential palace in Kabul, the symbolic crown jewel of their rapid reconquest of Afghanistan, on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.