Syrian refugee tripped by Hungarian journalist welcomed in Spain

Syrian refugee tripped by Hungarian journalist welcomed in Spain
The Syrian refugee tripped at a border hotspot by a Hungarian journalist while holding his son has been offered a job and accommodation by a Spanish football academy.
4 min read
17 September, 2015
Osama Abdul Mohsen holds his son Zaid as they arrive in Spain [Getty]

The Syrian refugee who was tripped at a border hotspot by a Hungarian journalist in an incident that generated global outrage arrived in Madrid early Thursday with hopes of rebuilding his career and giving his family a new life.

Osama Abdul Mohsen stepped out of a train just a few minutes past midnight (2200 GMT) after a trip of more than 20 hours from Germany to Spain, then quickly began thanking everyone for giving him the opportunity for a fresh start.

"Thank you all," Mohsen said, slowly, in broken English. "This is very, very important for my life. Thank you very much."

His seven-year-old son, Zaid, looked tired but still had the strength to open a broad smile and declare his love for football and his greatest idol: "Cristiano Ronaldo."

Mohsen was captured on video carrying Zaid when camerawoman Petra Laszlo tripped him and sent him tumbling to the ground in a field full of other migrants running from authorities near the Hungarian village of Roszke.

Laszlo was fired from her job at the right-wing N1TV online channel after footage was aired of her tripping Mohsen and kicking others.

"Now I feel that I am (flying) in the sky," he told the several dozen journalists who waited for him as he arrived from Barcelona with Zaid and another son. "I am very happy."

This is very, very important for my life. Now I feel that I am (flying) in the sky. I am very happy

After the incident in Hungary, Mohsen ended up in Germany, where media reports revealed he had been a football coach in Syria.

He headed al-Futuwa, a professional football team playing in Syria's Premier League in Deir ez-Zor, but was sacked from his position on the Syrian Sports Federation for Football in 2012 for politically supporting the Syrian revolution.

"Mr Osama belongs to a well-known family in Deir ez-Zor and he took part in protests during the revolution in the city," Samir al-Ani, a media activist and Mohsen's friend said.

"There is no doubt that difficult circumstances had led him to look for refuge [in Europe] with his younger son Zaid, and these circumstances are part of the general case of hopelessness that most Syrians are experiencing," Ani added.

Real Madrid welcome family  

Football club, Real Madrid welcomed the family for a visit of the club on Thursday, where they toured the club's vast trophy room as well as heading onto the pitch.

They also met with Real Madrid club president Florentino Perez.

"It's a dream come true," said Mohsen.

The family will also be official guests when Real Madrid play Granada on Saturday.

A new start

Seven-year-old Zaid is all smiles as he arrives in Spain [Getty]

The news about his football coach past prompted a Spanish football academy to offer to rebuild his life.

The CENAFE school in the suburb off Getafe helped bring Mohsen to Spain and will give him a job and a place to live near its training facility.

"Hopefully this will serve as an example to the rest of Europe," said school president Miguel Galan. "We need to help these people."

Galan will now try to bring Mohsen's wife and his other two children from a refugee camp in Turkey.

Getafe authorities will also work to get the family legalised in Spain as soon as possible so Mohsen can start working as a coach. He and his family will also have to learn Spanish.

"The first thing is to get him settled," said Luis Miguel Pedraza, of the CENAFE school.

"First we're giving him a hand as a humanitarian gesture. Later we'll look for something. He's interested in our school."

Mohsen said he already knows one of the first things he wants to do with his sons in Spain: Go to a Real Madrid game.

Galan said the club has already made an invitation to have them at the Santiago Bernabeu sometime soon.

Spain last week agreed to take 17,680 refugees from Syria and other countries under a plan set up by the European Commission.