FC Barcelona surprises girl from Aleppo with team bus, Lionel Messi

By Alex Butler  |  Updated Dec. 15, 2017 at 12:26 PM
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Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Nujeen Mustafa was recently gifted a dream day for a soccer fan when the Syrian refugee was surprised by FC Barcelona's team bus.

Mustafa, 18, has cerebral palsy. She was born in Aleppo and left the city on a small boat in 2015, partaking in a 5,000 kilometer journey to freedom.

She later co-authored the book Nujeen with journalist Christina Lamb. Mustafa is also a huge FC Barcelona fan.

FC Barcelona decided to get the wheels spinning to make her dream come true: a day at Camp Nou. The La Liga power summoned first-team bus driver Manu to pick her up from her home in Cologne, Germany. The effort was part of the club's holiday campaign.

"I was born on the countryside of Aleppo in a city called Mambij, but I grew up in the city [Aleppo] itself," Mustafa said in the video. "I think the saddest part for me is that part of my life is now gone. I think many people only remember Syria as a war country."

Manu was proud to be called on for the special task.

"I received a phone call to take care of this mission and here I am," Manu said. "Making the dream of a girl come true, right? There is one thing clear: is that we're gonna bring this girl and she's gonna make us all happy."

Mustafa, who is in a wheelchair, watched the large vehicle pull up right beside her.

"What is the Barcelona bus doing here?" She asked.

When she got on the bus, defender Gerard Pique appeared on a TV screen to invite her to Barcelona's game on Dec. 2 against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez later scored in the 2-2 draw.

Mustafa said it was her first time ever in a soccer stadium. She also received a Barcelona jersey, with 'Nujeen' on the back.

"All I need is to sign a contract now," she said.

Mustafa also met Andres Iniesta, Suarez, Messi and other members of FC Barcelona.

"I think what was important for me, through writing the book about this experience, is to tell people that I was not a number," she said. "I was a person and not a report you see on the news."

Mustafa previously gave a talk for TEDx Talks in May.

"Oh how I hate that word [refugee]," Mustafa said in the TED Talk. "Because it's a word that has lost its meaning. It has become synonymous with a plague, that's war, a disease that is free to spread here in Europe. We have become just a number on the news. But I am not a number. I'm a person. A person who has never gone to school until I was at the age of 17."

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