Oday Dabbagh is not a household name in the world of football, but he is certainly making waves in Belgium. The 24-year-old striker from Jerusalem scored his first goal for his new club, Royal Charleroi SC, on Saturday, July 29, in the first official match of the season. It was a moment of joy and pride for Dabbagh, who became the first Palestine national team player to play in a top European league two years ago.
Dabbagh’s journey to Belgium was not an easy one. He started his career in the occupied West Bank, playing for Hilal Al Quds, where he faced many challenges and obstacles. He had to deal with checkpoints, travel restrictions, and political tensions that often disrupted his training and matches. He also had to overcome the lack of exposure and opportunities for Palestinian players, who rarely get scouted by European clubs.
But Dabbagh did not give up on his dream of playing in Europe. He worked hard, improved his skills, and impressed with his pace, dribbling, and finishing. He caught the eye of F.C. Arouca, a Portuguese club that offered him a chance to play in Liga Portugal in 2021. Dabbagh seized the opportunity and made history as the first Palestinian to play in a top European league.
Dabbagh did not disappoint in Portugal. He scored 11 goals in just 15 starts for Arouca, helping them secure promotion to the first division. He also earned the admiration and respect of his teammates, coaches, and fans, who nicknamed him “The Gazelle” for his speed and agility.
Dabbagh’s performance in Portugal attracted the attention of Royal Charleroi SC, a Belgian club that plays in the Pro League, the highest level of football in Belgium. Charleroi signed Dabbagh over the summer, giving him a new challenge and a new opportunity to shine. They also gave him the #9 shirt, which signifies that he is their first-choice striker and that they have high expectations from him.
Dabbagh did not take long to repay their faith in him. He scored his first goal for Charleroi in their opening match of the season against K.V.C. Westerlo, a stunning volley from outside the box that left the goalkeeper helpless. It was a goal that showcased his talent and confidence, and that announced his arrival in Belgium.
Dabbagh hopes to score many more goals for Charleroi this season, and to help them achieve their goals. He also hopes to inspire other Palestinian players to follow his footsteps and to pursue their dreams of playing in Europe. He is aware that he is representing not only himself, but also his country and his people, who are proud of him and support him.
Dabbagh is a diamond in the rough that has played the majority of his career under the radar of scouts from Europe’s elite. But he is slowly but surely making a name for himself as a Palestinian footballer who can compete with the best in Europe. He is an underdog who has overcome many odds and who has proven himself on every stage he has played on.
He is Oday Dabbagh, and he is making history.