Premium Osama Rashid: From Iraqi refugee to captain of Santa Clara, with a course in between.

From Kirkuk - where he was born - to Rotterdam, Osama Rashid lived in refugee camps. He completed higher education before arriving in Portugal, where he is one of the captains of Santa Clara in the 1st league.

Osama Rashid was four when he left Iraq with his family in search of refuge from war. His father stayed, serving in the army against Iran. The family plan was to find refuge in the Netherlands.

"We were seeking the refugee status in the Netherlands. We lived in refugee camps for a year, and then they gave us a home to live", Osama recalls. The support given to the family at that time marks the course of the player. "In the Netherlands, the government guarantees important conditions for integration, that go from housing to subsidies in the case of unemployment"


After five years of residence in the Netherlands, Osama Rashid got a Dutch passport. By then the family had moved from a small town in the country's interior to Rotterdam, where the family found employment, and Osama found a new club, the historic Feyenoord.

"When we moved, I had a proposal from Ajax to do some tests". I ended up going with my older brother to train at Feyenoord and stayed in the group. I was seven years old". Osama considers that the new club has given him a greater chance of integration in the city, an environment and friends among whom he grew up.

"Football was important for my integration. It was a way of learning the language quickly, but also of creating relationships with colleagues", he said. Language was a determining factor for the life in the host country. "My parents were not young. For them it was more difficult to learn Dutch. When my parents and my brother arrived to Holland, he was already 12 years old", he recalls.

At the age of 18, when professional football was already more than just a dream, Osama Rashid suffered a serious injury at the service of the Dutch national team in the U17 European Championship in 2009. The midfielder was finishing a contract with Feyenoord and the Rotterdam club was slow to submit a renewal proposal after the injury.

Osama then left for Den Bosch, but physical weakness casted doubts on his future on the pitch. He didn't play much and after a failed transfer to Wolfsburg from Germany, he moved to the amateurs of Alphense Boys.

"I gave up on football." "I decided that my future had to do with studying, I was already studying Marketing and Management, a course that I completed at that time" he recalls. An attempt to expand his professional horizons that eventually made the will to play football return.

The end of his studies coincided with Iraq's national team call for the Asian Nations Cup. A new window was opened for football, followed by an invitation to play in Portugal at Farense.

Despite the little information he had about the country and about the Algarve region, Osama Rashid liked the first experience in Portugal. After completing a season in the second Portuguese league, he left for a short passage - just five games - in Bulgaria at Loko Plovdiv -, followed by a return to Portugal, this time to Santa Clara.

In Açores he was quick to make his value known, with a notable role last season - 31 games and 9 goals scored - in the team led by Carlos Pinto, who managed to rise to the upper division. The new season began with a prominent role in the team. He played in all the matches, made three goals and two assists in the Angra do Heroísmo club, and he is the captain in the absence of the Portuguese-Canadian Pedro Pacheco.

"I am very grateful for the opportunities I had at school and also in football", Osama recalls. He does not imagine living in Iraq, he says he is accustomed to the European lifestyle, the Netherlands and Portugal. Countries where he says he has found his place: among books, friends and football.

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