Zaki Anwari: Afghan national youth team footballer chose to die clinging to plane rather than live under the Taliban

Afghan national youth team footballer died when he became trapped in the landing gear of a US evacuation flight in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban.

Zaki Anwari, 19, was born after the US drove the Taliban from Afghanistan and would only have heard about their rule from his parents while living under the western-supported regimes of Presidents Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani.

He attended a prestigious international school in Kabul alongside the children of diplomats and his social media profile is one of an aspiring influencer.

His football team the Khorosan lions reported that he had been among the teen’s videoed clinging to the side of a US C-17 transport.

Mr Anwari’s remains were discovered in the wheel well of a US C-17 transport jet when it arrived in Qatar, after the plane had taken off from Kabul with despairing Afghans clinging to the fuselage on Monday.

The athlete was among several people who died after clambering onto the aircraft as it took off, with harrowing video showing bodies tumbling to the ground as the jet climbed into the sky.

Two of those who died when they fell from the plane were reported to be teenage brothers who sold watermelon at Kabul’s central market. Aged 16 and 17, social media reports said the brothers routinely scavenged in the bins of Kabul’s markets to provide for their mother because the family was so poor.

The horrifying scenes of so many young men sat on a fin below the plane’s turbine as it barreled down the runway, only to then fall hundreds of feet to their deaths, will likely become the defining image of Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The United States Air Force later said that the pilots decided to go ahead with takeoff because the jet ‘was surrounded’ and there was a ‘rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft.’

Mr Anwari’s death was confirmed by the General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports of Afghanistan, Arian News reported on Thursday.

The beloved teen had been called up to the national youth team as a 16-year-old. His ‘unspeakable loss’ was mourned by his friends and peers on social media.