Lebanon

Hussein Kaouk and the magic of football

Football helps youngster in Leukemia battle
  • Seven-year-old Hussein Kaouk defeated leukemia thanks to football
  • Hussein is a popular icon with Nejmeh fans and players
  • He talks about the positive energy he got from the beautiful game

Who said there are no miracles in football? Seven-year-old Lebanese child Hussein Kaouk has proved that the beautiful game can indeed work miracles.

After he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just four years old, football played an important role in Hussein’s recovery. He has become an icon for the fans and players of Nejmeh, the club he roots for along with Real Madrid.

"Football has helped me a lot in my journey to recover from leukemia," Hussein told FIFA.com. "I love the game so much and my dream of pursuing football helped me fight the disease.

"When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t watch football matches. That pushed me to fight hard to recover because I love the game. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me overcome this illness. I also thank my friends, who are Nejmeh players, and I want to assure them we’ll win the league this season."

Hussein got to meet the Nejmeh team and then in 2018 made a trip of a lifetime to Spain, where he was introduced to the Real Madrid squad, most notably Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who Hussein considers "the best player in the world".

"It was a wonderful time," he said. "I spent six days in Spain, where I met the Real Madrid stars who gave me a ball signed by all of them. I also watched Real Madrid against Real Sociedad from the stands of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. I remember that Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in that game."

"I was sitting in the corner behind the goal, and when Ronaldo scored in the first half, he came right in front of me and made his famous celebration, shouting 'Si'," he added excitedly.

Football helps youngster in Leukemia battle

Hussein's visit to Madrid and meeting his favourite stars, notably Ronaldo, had a positive psychological impact on him. He concluded his four-year treatment journey last November after receiving 146 treatment sessions.

A month after his complete recovery, Hussein was diagnosed with COVID-19 but thanks to the determination and perseverance he gained from overcoming leukemia, he recovered from the virus.

"Coronavirus was not difficult for me,” he said. “It took me four years to overcome leukemia, so isolating myself for 14 days was not difficult and it was easy for me to beat the virus."

Despite his young age, Hussein aspires to become a footballer like Lionel Messi. “Because he’s left-footed like me”, he said.

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