LAFC's Mohamed El-Munir haunted by strife in his native Libya

Mohamed El-Munir on the ball

Mohamed El-Munir has managed to escape the troubles in his native Libya and forge a good life for himself in Major League Soccer.

But the left back is still haunted by the revolution that has ravished his country and is saddened his family is still there.

The 27-year-old LAFC defender is in his second year in MLS after spending 2018 as a regular starter at Orlando City SC. But his thoughts rarely stray from his hometown of Tripoli, where as a 19-year-old at Al-Ittihad Tripoli he witnessed first-hand the devastation the revolution brought.

“I had to see many of my friends die in the streets,” he told Joseph D’Hippolito in a gripping article published by the Guardian. “If I had to go out, I wouldn’t know if I was going to come back. We didn’t have electricity from 7 o’clock to 12, 1 o’clock. In June or July, it started to be so difficult to find food.”

El-Munir found a way out in 2011 and embarked on a nomadic soccer journey that has taken him from Tripoli to Serbia, Belarus and now MLS. His professional journey wasn’t very easy — he went six months without being paid and needed another eight to regain fitness when he joined FK Jagodina after Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade reneged on the original transfer agreement.

But his difficulties are nothing compared to what his mother, wife and children endure on a daily basis back in Tripoli. Because of a nine-hour time zone difference, the only time El-Munir can check in on his family — “if there is a network,” he said — is the hour before training.

“If I reach them and they tell me that they are good, I can feel much better because I know that they are safe,” he said. “But if I can’t get in touch with them, that’s going to be a problem. I’m trying to concentrate but, still, I have it on my mind.”

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