Born in Afghanistan, she was just 11 years old when the Taliban murdered her father. She along with her mother and four sisters was forced to flee through neighbouring Pakistan with a forged passport, before eventually arriving in Denmark, the country she now calls home.
After fleeing Afghanistan as a child, Nadia Nadim turned to football while living in a centre for asylum seekers in Denmark. In 2009, she became the first foreign-born player to play football in the Danish national team.
Since her first days in Denmark as an Afghan asylum seeker, Nadim's story is an example of integration and success: At age 31, she is now the first foreign-born player in the Danish national football team, and her football career has taken her to some of the world's most important teams. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated her a champion for girls and women's education because of her fight for gender equality in sport.
"I knew what football was because my dad was so into the game, and I had a football at home," Nadim recalls.
After the Taliban took over power in 1996, women had to stay at home and could not play any sports. But Nadim played in the courtyard with her sisters and father.
But it was in Denmark that football made a real impression.
"I saw the girls' team play football, and I was like, Oh, that's how that's supposed to be," she says. "That's where I fell in love with the game."
Football gave her the way into the country, even though the transition was not easy. She started playing for B52 Aalborg, and her talent became evident.
Although she was granted Danish citizenship in 2008, she could not join the senior national team immediately. Denmark had to plead for an exception to the rule which stated a player had to have lived in a country for five years before they were eligible to play for its first team -- Nadim could only apply for citizenship when she turned 18 in 2006, even though she had called Denmark home since 2000.
Denmark's request was granted and Nadim became the first foreign-born player of either gender to play in the Danish national team in 2009.
"I'm lucky that I got a second chance," says Nadim, adding that she doesn't think she would have survived if she and her family had stayed behind in Afghanistan.
Nadim has so far scored 200 goals & represented the Danish national team 98 times.
After a stellar career in Denmark, she played in the United States, where she helped her team Portland Thorns FC secure the NWSL Shield -- the top award given to the best team in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). She was then signed on by Manchester City, and -- most recently -- by Paris Saint Germain, where she is currently playing.
In 2017, Denmark's women's football team came second in the Euro Cup, and Nadim became famous countrywide and was named Dane of the Year by Berlingske newspaper. In 2018, her book My Story came out.
Nadim is not only a professional football player. She is also finishing her studies to become a reconstructive surgeon at Aarhus University, carrying her medical books with her everywhere she goes -- even during peak football season, when she trains several hours a day.
Nadim also believes that sport is a tool to create change, helping children with a migrant or refugee background integrate better in their new societies.
In 2019, she became an ambassador of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) NGO. As part of her work with DRC, she visited the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where she played football with two local women's teams.