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Tufegdzic: Football gave me a second chance

Kuwait coach recalls recovery from last year’s near-fatal shooting

Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic has credited football for his second chance in life after surviving a near fatal-shooting at the hands of his 86-year-old neighbour last August.

Tufegdzic, 41, was buying land from his attacker’s daughter in the town of Pozarevac in his native Serbia when he was shot in the right side of his chest from close range in an unprovoked attack. He spent the next month in intensive care and his attacker later died in police custody from natural causes.

His neighbour had a previous conviction for a similar attack and was said to have been mentally unstable.

Tufegdzic told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Gulf Cup in Manama, where Kuwait reached the semi-final: “God gave me a second chance in life. The doctors told me it was because I had a strong heart. Sport helped me stay alive. I’m a fighter.

“My family were told that doctors were 99 per cent certain I couldn’t stay alive.”

In an interview with the BBC World Service, he added: “I died and for one period my heart stopped. But from God I got a second chance. [It shows] you really must respect life and how special it is, after the accident I had.”

Explaining the incident to Gulf News, Tufegdzic said: “Everything was normal; I hadn’t said one bad word. After he shot me, I jumped at his legs to grab the gun but after 10 to 15 seconds I had lost so much blood that I had lost energy. Luckily another neighbour intervened.

“When the police asked the man why he shot me he told them he didn’t know why. He had mental problems and this wasn’t the first time he had tried to shoot someone. He had also attempted it five or six years earlier, but I was living in Kuwait then and didn’t know.”

Tufegdzic added: “When I landed back in Kuwait my lawyer called and said he had passed away — maybe this was God’s way of punishing him. I couldn’t think of one reason, not one small reason why he did it.”

He told the BBC World Service: “I look at football the same as before. But surely after this you think about life differently.

“I’m more positive even when you don’t think you have any reason to be happy. It’s life and you must be optimistic and enjoy things more in your life and family in general. I had a quick recovery, I’m healthy and I didn’t see any reason not to continue my job.”

Asked by Gulf News if he forgave his attacker, Tufegdzic said: “I try to forget this now. I have family, three kids and I really look at what’s happened as behind me. I don’t want to think. It’s better to forget and think of my children, my family and my job, to be positive. I don’t have any problems [in terms of disability] and I have a normal life now. So what can you do?”