Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva played his college ball at Army. And as is required of all those who go to school at West Point, Villanueva spent several years in active duty — serving three tours in Afghanistan.
While he was there, he relied on an interpreter — Mohammad Arif Azimi — with whom he forged a special bond. Azimi, according to Villanueva, did far more than translate. During an ambush by the Taliban on Villanueva’s platoon in August 2011, Azimi helped carry a wounded soldier to safety.
“That was very admirable…a local national Afghan. Dressed up in U.S. uniform. Carrying a wounded American soldier to safety. It was one of those images that I’ll never forget about him,” Villanueva said.
Azimi eventually moved back to Kabul, where, as a former U.S. Army translator, he was at grave risk at being executed by the Taliban.
But in late 2015, Azimi was able to immigrate to the U.S. thanks to a special visa obtained with Villanueva’s help.
And after not having seen each other since 2012, the two had an emotional reunion in Houston during Super Bowl week.
“He told me he was going to come see me,” Azimi said. “It means for me, like, everything.”
“He’s got the most amazing story that I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” Villanueva said. “And I think a lot of people can learn a lot from him.”
Watch above, via ESPN.
[image via screengrab]
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